`Change laws for the sake of the girl child’

August 28th, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Amritsar, Aug 28 (IANS) Using religious sentiments to curb female foeticide in Punjab, which has a skewed sex ratio, is a good initiative, but Harpal Singh, the brain behind this move, feels that other measures like changing the laws are also required to completely uproot this problem.“Women are discriminated against widely for a variety of reasons and until those reasons are addressed, the problem will remain. For instance, look at the laws such as the inheritance law, property law and land and land units law. They are all biased towards men,” Singh, chairman of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd and Impact group of companies, told IANS on the sidelines of the launch of the “Nanhi Chhaan” programme here Wednesday.

In this programme, which aims at changing the mindset of people towards the girl child as well as the environment, saplings are given away as `prasad’ (offering) to all devotees thronging the Golden Temple twice a year - in Feb-March and Aug-Sep.

Nearly 150,000 devotees visit the Golden Temple every day. On weekends the number swells to 200,000.

Explaining the philosophy behind the programme, Harpal Singh said the sapling, symbolizing a girl child, will be given away in an effort to inculcate in people the thought that just like the sapling grows up to become a tree and helps us survive by providing oxygen, girls grow up to be women and mothers who bear life.

Punjab has a skewed sex ratio of 800 females per 1,000 males.

“The idea behind this initiative is to use the religious sentiment to make people change their mindset against the girl child. Where laws have failed to curb the heinous crime of female foeticide, this sentiment will hopefully work,” Singh said.

“Until laws which are biased towards men are not changed, it will be difficult to change the negative trend of female foeticide,” Singh stressed.

“However, until that happens we will continue our endeavour to do something for the cause. The priests in the gurudwara will also encourage people to present a sapling when a girl child is born and to a new bride when she enters her husband’s home for the first time to signify a new beginning,” he added.

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