A computer teacher at a private school in Shahjahanpur has emerged as a prominent advocate for community action to protect girls and combat the illegal practice of female foeticide.
Ridhhi Behal, along with a group of volunteers, dedicates her weekends to visiting villages in the district and setting up small awareness camps for women to educate them about the grave issue of female foeticide. Additionally, they inform women about various government schemes designed to support the girl child.
During these awareness camps, prominent women leaders such as President Droupadi Murmu, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and sports icons like Saina Nehwal are cited as examples to inspire and empower women.
Behal’s mission is rooted in combating the prevailing belief in rural areas that a girl child is a burden, leading to incidents of female foeticide and gender-based discrimination. She works tirelessly to educate women and shift their perspectives on this matter.
Ridhhi Behal embarked on this mission in 2007 when a close relative was pressured by her in-laws to terminate her pregnancy upon learning that the child was a girl. This traumatic incident compelled Behal to take action.
Since then, her initiative has gained momentum, attracting support from numerous individuals and organizations over the years. Dr. Deepa Saxena, a medical practitioner who occasionally accompanies Behal, emphasized the importance of her work in achieving gender equality.
Uttar Pradesh, where Behal conducts her efforts, has a sex ratio of 912, lower than the national average of 940. People like Amarjeet Bawa, a mother of four daughters, have been positively influenced by Behal’s mission and are proud of their girls. Bawa now assists Behal in her mission to help other women overcome similar societal pressures.
Dr. RK Gautam, the Chief Medical Officer, expressed full support for Behal’s initiative and highlighted the administration’s efforts to provide assistance in spreading awareness about the importance of the girl child and birth control.
Behal’s work, along with the efforts of medical professionals and local campaigns, contributes to the ongoing battle against female foeticide and the promotion of gender equality in the region.
Also read: India’s ballooning child rights crisis