The patriarchal mindset where women are considered to be a burden, which is one of the main reasons for the prevalence of female infanticide, needs to be addressed, said Usilampatti Revenue Divisional Officer K. V. Rajkumar at Arul Anandar College at Karumathur in the district on Tuesday.
He was addressing the college students during the inauguration of a campaign against female infanticide organised by Arul Anandar Initiatives for Social Education, and Babu Integrated Rural Development, a non-governmental organisation.
The campaign was inaugurated against the backdrop of a recent female infanticide case where a seven-day-old female infant – the third girl child of a couple at K. Parapatti village of Usilampatti block was murdered by the family.
The RDO said that the practice of paying dowry, and the notion that public spaces were unsafe for women, discouraged parents from raising girl children. "But, women have excelled in various fields. The college students must be the change makers who must create awareness among the general public against female infanticide," he said.
Mr. Rajkumar said that it was a shame that female infanticide had taken place at this period in Usilampatti. He said that the performance of village and block-level committees in disseminating and monitoring issues related to children must be strictly reviewed by the higher officials. The Childline, which operates on 1098, must be popularised, he added.
L. Shanmugam, member of Child Welfare Committee (CWC), said that alcohol addiction among parents, unwarranted superstitions, child born out of illicit relationships, and lower economic status of the families, were the main reasons for the incidence of female infanticide.
He said that a multi-dimensional approach is essential to tackle the problem of female infanticide. Strict monitoring of pregnant women, collection of details of children in an area, creating awareness of the facilities that are available for protection of women and girl children, and creating awareness of laws for crimes against women are essential to address the female infanticide problem, he added.
A. Selvakamatchi, District Maternal and Child Health Officer, said that the village health nurses (VHNs) played a major role in tracking pregnant women and infants. So, the college students must work along with the VHNs to create awareness among the villagers, she said.
B. Pandiaraja, a member of CWC, said that government schemes for women and female infants have to be driven home through pamphlets.
District Child Protection Officer A. Ganesan, District Social Welfare Officer (in-charge) Pushpakala and other officials from police, and revenue departments participated in the event.
Arul Anandhar College Rector Rev. Fr. John Pragasam S.J., and Secretary Rev. Father Gilbert Camillus S.J., spoke.
The college students, along with government officials, will create awareness against female infantcide at 18 villages from March 6 onwards.
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