Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gurdwaras to adopt unwanted girls

18 Nov 2007,Balwant Garg,TNN

BATHINDA: It's god and gurdwara now for Punjab's unwanted girl child. Agonized by the state's dipping sex ratio and terror tales of girls, both born and unborn, being killed or left to die, Sikhism's highest temporal body, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC), has announced that it will henceforth step in to adopt the abandoned baby girls.

In its urgent effort to erase Punjab's darkest gender blot, SGPC will soon ask important gurdwaras in Punjab to place cradles at their entrances and exhort unhappy parents obsessed with boys to leave "those innocent children at god's door, not death's".

"We will bear the expenses for bringing up these children. Don't kill them," SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar told a gathering at the Takth Damdama Sahib late Friday evening.

He said the decision had to be taken because of the spurt in cases of abandonment of girls, many of them just born, in public parks, railway compartments, and even garbage heaps.

That men in the state can't find Punjabi women to marry, and are scouting for partners in different cultures and distant places — Tripura, Assam, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa and Bengal — has not really deterred Punjabis from doing away with girls as the sex ratio dips to a shocking 793 females to 1,000 males. In Fatehgarh Sahib district, it is an abysmal 754:1000.

Social activist Pam Rajput welcomed the SGPC initiative. "It's a laudable step, though I do feel that SGPC should go beyond it and launch a campaign against female foeticide and issue directions to all gurdwaras to outcast people who kill their infant girls."

Other women activists too cheered the SGPC. Murti Devi, a volunteer who's taken seven abandoned girls under her care, said, "I hope this will lessen incidents of parents deserting innocent babies."