Under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, sex selective abortions are made punishable. The Government in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is responsible for administration of this Act and its implementation is the responsibility of the State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations. Further, foeticide is also punishable under Section 315 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both. Legislations such as Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 seek to penalise the perpetrators of these social evils.
As a part of the measures taken to change the mind set of society, Government of India has been implementing on a pilot basis ‘Dhanalakshmi’, scheme for incentivising birth of the Girl Child. A number of States have been implementing their own schemes to incentivise the birth of a girl child and encourage families to place a premium on her education and development through Conditional Cash Transfer schemes.
Socio-economic empowerment of women is essential for making informed decisions and for change of the mind sets. The Government of India has undertaken a number of initiatives for this, such as Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP), The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGNREGA), National Rural Livelihood Mission(NRLM) and loans through the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. This should go a long way in empowering women and enable them to take decisions about the birth of children, their spacing, retain girl children and improve the nutritional and educational status.
To create national awareness on issues relating to girl child, in 2009, Ministry of Women and Child Development has declared January 24 as the National Girl Child Day. On this day, besides the Central Government, the State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations undertake advocacy measures to improve the status of girl child in their respective States/ Union Territories.