Nalgonda: The number of cases of couples ‘surrendering’ or leaving the unwanted baby girls in Nalgonda district has come down significantly due to the change in attitude among the parents towards the girl child.
The awareness programme launched by the district authorities and various government schemes to check sex discrimination has resulted in a positive change in the society, District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) Kasarala Ganesh told Telangana Today.
To curb infanticide or sale of girl child and to prevent the parents from dumping them in bushes or throwing in nalas, the Integrated Child Protection Unit Scheme (ICPS) ‘Ooyala’ or cradle scheme in Devarakonda division of the district asking parents to leave or drop their unwanted baby girls in the cradle set up at the healthcare unit in secrecy if they don’t want to raise them. The ‘surrendered’ girl children were lodged in Sishugruhas at Nalgonda and Devarakonda.
According to official figures, the number of ‘surrendered’ girl children decreased to 13 in 2020 from 23 in 2019, which indicated the change in attitude of parents towards the girl child. About 31 girl babies were ‘surrendered’ to ICPS Unit in 2013, 34 in 2014, 53 in 2015, 55 in 2016, 95 in 2017, 26 in 2018, 23 in 2019 and 13 in 2020. Almost all the surrendered babies in the district were girls.
“After taking charge of the children from parents under ‘Ooyala’ scheme, we send them for a health check-up at the government hospital and admit them in Sishugruha. A special report on the babies is maintained by Sishugruha officials. All the surrendered girl babies are usually only a few days old. We often face problems while completing the process of taking charge of such infants from their parents,” Ganesh said, adding that in some cases, parents call up the ICPS unit and warn that they should not be held responsible if the baby dies because of any delay in taking the girl child.
This, he said, puts the ICPS staff on tenterhooks. “In some cases, fathers vanish if their wives give birth to a baby girl, putting us in a quandary since the father’s signature is a must on the declaration form before handing over the child to the ICPS unit. We take the help of sarpanches to trace and pursue the fathers to sign on the declaration forms,” he said.
Stating that generally parents do not like to surrender the first girl child to ICPS unit, he said they choose the option to surrender only after having a third girl child. “Multiple socio-economic reasons lead the parents to surrender the girl child. Definitely, it is discrimination towards girl child that needs to be checked. When the surrendered girl child is produced before the CWC, we enquire about the family condition of the surrendered child. We give the parents the option to take back their daughter within 60 days if they change their mind,” he said.
District Coordinator of Gramya Resource Centre for Women Siramdas Anjali said they had appointed a volunteer in all the villages of 11 mandals in Devarakonda division in the district. “On getting information from volunteers about any parent deciding to surrender their baby girl to ICPS, we rush to their house and counsel them. He try to persuade them to keep the baby with them for six months and then take a final decision,” she said, adding that the Centre also gives them an assurance of providing help in the form of rice and other groceries for six months to avoid additional burden due to the new addition to their family.
“Gramya Resource Centre is extending such support to 80 families in Devarakonda division. Keeping the baby for six months with them also helps in bonding between parents and the baby, increasing the possibility of parents wanting to keep the child with them only. We also bear the cost of treatment if the baby falls sick during these six months. We have succeeded in pursuing hundreds of parents from surrendering their girl child to the ICPS unit in the last 13 years,” she added.
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