Law, Violence, and the Girl Child
Health and Human Rights: An International Journal
Despite the government's ratification of numerous international treaties that prevent discrimination against the girl child, the 2001 Indian Census figures show a sharp decline in the child sex ratio in many regions in India. The substantive and procedural laws remain antiquated, with very few changes being made. Child marriage, though prohibited by law, continues to exist and is merely unreported. Child prostitution is also prohibited, but traffickers and brothel-keepers generally manage to
... erally manage to escape the law. There are no proper laws to deal specifically with child sexual abuse-the existing provisions relating to sexual assault and rape are all that are available. This article analyzes the laws, their implementation and effects in these three areas of violence which impact on the girl child in India. Violence against the girl child in India assumes many forms, ranging from physical and sexual abuse to deliberate health and nutritional neglect. India has a high rate of infant mortality overall, but the rate is higher for infant girls than for infant boys. Even worse, after one year of age the infant mortality rate for the female child is one and a half times that of the male child.' Discrimination against and neglect of the female child is also reflected by the child sex ratio (CSR) in the age group of 0-6 years, which has fallen to extremely low proportions: from 945 females per 1000 males in 1991 to 927 females per 1000 males in 2001.2 Recent studies in the 2001 Census of the sex ratio at birth (SRB) and the CSR point to an increased practice of sex-selective abortions of female fetuses and female infanticide in certain parts of the country in Kirti Singh is an Advocate and a member of the High Court Bar Association of New Delhi. She is also a member of the Expert Committee on Laws of the National Commission for Women, India, and Convener of the Legal Committee of the All India Democratic Women's Association. Diviya Kapur is an Advocate and a member of the Karnataka High Court Bar Association of Bangalore. She is also a member of Janwadi Mahila Samiti in New Delhi and a former trustee of Samvada in Bangalore.