Antagonism against girlchild is not at all a North Indian phenomenon, even in pockets of rich Maharashtra girl-child is considered ‘unwanted’
India is often considered a society in paradox. Though people at large worship mother goddesses, they do not hesitate to go to any extent to avert birth of a girl child in their families. This paradox has led to a situation where the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group at the national level came down to 914 in 2011 from 927 a decade ago.
Maharashtra despite being the richest state in India appears to be the same story when it comes to the status of sex ratio. As per the 2011 census Maharashtra had child sex ratio in the age group of 0-6 years of 833, number of girls per 1000 boys, which was a sharp fall from the figure of 913 in 2001. Clearly the antagonism against girl child is not at all a North Indian phenomenon.
Even economic prosperity, as is the case with Maharashtra, could not be of any help for improvement of conditions for births of girl children. Maharashtrian society sadly goes one step ahead, as the state government found to its shock, that those girl children born against the wishes of their parents were condemned to lives of "unwanted" and even named so.
So, a field survey in the Samara district of Maharashtra, revealed that 222 girls under the age of 18 years were named "Nakusa".
The Marathi word Nakusa means unwanted. Parents of such girls revealed that they did not name their daughters Nakusa right away. It was only after a girl child was born to them when they already had two of them that they took recourse to naming the third and fourth girl child as "Nakusa". Nakusa was not the only name which disgraced these unwanted girls, as they were also named "Dagadi" and "Dhondi" in Marathi, which meant a stone.
Interestingly, Satara happens to be one of the districts in Maharashtra, which has much better sex ratio than the overall state average. Satara had a sex ratio of 995 female against 1000 males in 2001. The ratio slightly declined to 986 against 1000 males in 2011. This is in contrast to overall sex ratio of 925 females per 1000 males in Maharashtra.
In place of taking pride in such a good sex ratio the survey, which was conducted by district health officials, revealed that over 200 girls aged below 18 years of age were living their lives with stigma owing to being called Nakusa.
However, the parents of Nakusas had a change of heart after a long period of time. The people found out that their daughters were not really so "unwanted", though they had condemned them to lifelong stigma.
The health officials of the Satara district too stepped in to impress upon the people there that they need to liberate the girls in the region from lifelong stigma.
So, what a better way than giving them a new name. Thus, over 200 Nakusas were named "Aishwaryas", "Shantis", "Aashas", and so on. These earlier Nakusas too apparently had a sigh of relief as they rejoiced to their new found identities and sense of being loved and owned by their respective families.
The renaming efforts assume significance given that these Nakusas were found to have low self-esteem and would have themselves not wanted to have girl child after their marriages.
The local officials are of the view that there are more girls living such lives after being condemned to be "Nakusas" and to bring them out of their man made stigma they would continue with their surveys.
The idea, as they said, is to spread awareness and convince people that the girls too should be welcome to the society as are the boys.