“According to our scriptures killing a girl child is equal to killing a thousand saints,” said spiritual and humanitarian leader, His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
He was delivering his inaugural address at the two-day national workshop of doctors to champion the cause of the girl child which began today at The Art of Living International Center in Bangalore.
The workshop, which is organized by The Art of Living Foundation in partnership with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Indian Medical Association (IMA), saw over 70 leading doctors from across the country take part together with senior UNFPA officials, IMA National Mentoring Group (NMG) members and IMA Ambassadors against sex selection.Speaking on the importance and value of the girl child, Gurudev said,
“Girls today, are no less than boys, in fact, girls take much more care of their parents than boys do and also have an equal right in performing the last rites of their parents. Even in our scriptures, women have always been given more prominence as in many cases the Godess’ name comes before the God’s, be it, Lakshmi – Narayana, Sita- Ram or Radhe – Shyam.”
Urging doctors to take the lead in curbing the rapidly rising menace of sex-selection, he added,“When words come out from the mouth of the doctors it is a gospel for the common man. Doctors must take the message against pre-natal sex selection to all. It is your duty to bring in more doctors and create awareness among those who are practicing this wrong habit for monetary gains.”
Earlier in the day, the conference was inaugurated by His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; Smt. Bhanumathi Narsimhan, Director, Women Empowerment and Child Welfare, The Art of Living; Dr Ashok Adhao, President, IMA; Dr Dharmaprakash, Honorary Secretary, IMA and Ms. Ena Singh, Assistant Representative, UNFPA India.
“The 2001 census, where we had first seen a drastic fall in the sex-ratio at birth in India, had sent shock waves through the country. It showed us how deep the intolerance is for women which comprise half of humanity. It is sad because every religion that has been nurtured on this great land has taught tolerance, respect and compassion,” said Ena Singh.
The two-day conference which will conclude on Sunday, September 13, 09 will see the doctors along with the senior UNFPA and IMA members chalk out a roadmap to effectively curb the practice of pre-natal sex selection across the country . Further, the doctors will build pressure on colleagues to curb sex selection and encourage a wider community action towards valuing daughters.
Raising concern over the rapidly growing threat to the girl child, Dr. Pragati Sinha, Member, National Mentoring Group (NMG) said,
“Contrary to popular belief, this practice is also prevalent among the educated, urban, rich and the aspiring middle class. It is time we give more importance to empowering women and take a legal action against those who are encouraging the practice of pre-natal sex selection.”
The Art of Living Foundation has been actively campaigning against sex selection and gender discrimination. In 2005, it hosted India’s Missing Daughters: Faith for Action Against Sex Selection, a workshop which brought together religious and spiritual leaders of different faiths, representatives of the Government and civil society to work towards creating awareness on sex selection and combat the growing practice. In addition, padyatras were organized in various states to raise the level of awareness among the general public. A padyatra in 2007 covered 17 towns in six districts of Punjab, one of the worst affected states in the country with a heavily skewed sex ratio (798 girls per 1,000 boys). The organization, through its programs has also been educating youth, especially medical college students, on the issue of sex selection and gender discrimination.