'Selfie With Daughter' Contest Aims To Prevent Selective Abortion In India, Because All Parents Should Value Their Daughters

The state of Haryana has one of the lowest female-to-male ratios in India, with 871 women for every 1000 men as of 2014. Sunil Jaglan, leader of the Haryana village Bibpur, recognized the negative message selective abortion sends about the value of women, a message he also saw reflected in the absence of daughters in his villagers' family photos. So, he started the "Selfie With Daughter" campaign for families to celebrate their daughters and increase their presence in family photos — and, hopefully, in the village itself.

Parents have been snapping photos of themselves with their daughters and sending them to Jaglan via WhatsApp. “More than 300 pictures have flooded my Whatsapp,” he told The News Minute. The photos will be judged by a panel of 30 female village council leaders. The winners, to be announced on June 19, will receive Rs 2,100 along with a certificate and trophy, although it's unclear what exactly the photos will be judged by.

Selective abortion is currently banned in India, but nevertheless, the country's sex ratio dropped from 964 women per 1000 men in 1971 to 918 in 2011. However, Jaglan told Indian Express that the sex ratio of new babies is almost equal in Bibipur, whose entrance boasts a sign reading “Bibipur – The Women’s World.” Bibipur was also the first Indian village to hold a women-led "khap panchayat" — a union of several villages, often to make judicial decisions — where the members resolved to charge parents who undergo selective abortion with murder.

The issue of selective abortion is multifaceted from a feminist perspective. While selectively aborting female fetuses can detract from women's rights, so can criminalizing women's reproductive choices. Punishing individual women who choose to undergo selective abortions is not the answer when the real issue at hand is the belief that daughters are less important than sons. Rather than attacking one manifestation of this belief, the "Selfie With Daughter" campaign pulls it out from the roots to create households where daughters are not just more common, but also more welcomed and loved.

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