Details for Reform Option "Female Infant Life-Saving Programme, Tamil Nadu"
Female infanticide was first acknowledged as an issue in Tamil Nadu, a State otherwise known for its high literacy rate and enlightened attitude to women, in the early 1990.Despite penal action and various government initiatives, the practice still continues in some districts although it is believed to be considerably reduced.
Female Infant Life Saving Committees were formed at Health Sub Centre (HSC), block and district levels in order to educate, train and counsel the community.
The HSC committee is made up of: Village Health Nurse; NGO representative; Mukya Sevika (female worker); teacher; Anganwadi worker; Panchayat (local council) presidents of local villages; self help group member; village administrative officer; police representative; adolescent link volunteers.
The Block level committee is made up of: Panchayat union chairman; block PHC medical officer; block development officer; Child Development Project Officer (CDPO); NGO representative; Tahsildar (chief of block); police inspector/sub inspector.
The District level committee (which monitors the HSC and block committees) is made up of: district collector; police superintendent; joint director/ deputy director of medical services; health services deputy director; project officer; district social welfare officer; NGO representatives; programme officer Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS); any other member nominated by district collector.
The HSC committee works at grass roots level to identify potential high risk families (defined as a family which already has one or more girl children or a family with a previous history of female infanticide).
A list, updated monthly, is made of these families and the pregnant mother and her family is visited once a month from month 5 to 9 and every week from month 9 until the baby is two weeks old.
The Medical Officer will also visit the family once before and once after the delivery to certify health of the child. The committee will arrange priority care at the hospital and transport.
The committee is trained by professional counsellors and given a handbook, listing all the various benefits available under government schemes, to supply to all high risk families. It also visits elderly women and the dais (untrained birth attendants) in the village and warns them of the possibility of prosecution if they bring pressure on the mother to kill a girl baby.
The Block level committee meets once a month to discuss the progress of all activities and to monitor the HSC level committee.
The District level committee also meets once a month to review the activities. It will identify villages where there were previously cases of female infanticide and after a year of no cases, will project them as a role model for others through the mass media.
The training strategy includes a one day workshop for district level committee members; a one day course for trainers in each block; a one day training course for the block level team; the development of a curriculum and handbook for each committee and a one-day sensitisation training programme for district officers of health, social welfare, nutrition, women development corporation, police, rural development, education and Panchayat union chairmen etc to enlist their support and cooperation.
Has yet to be evaluated.
INR 65.5 lakh for two districts.
Breakdown of costs:
Trainers training INR 1,77,00
HSC committee training INR 21,50,00
Block committee training INR 2,00,70
District sensitisation training INR 60,00 (€106)
HSC meeting expenses INR 7,86,00 (€1,392)
Travel expenses INR 6,55,00 (€1,160)
Madurai and Theni districts of Tamil Nadu since 2002.
Selection of committees.
One day training for each committee.
Development of curriculum and handbook by RCH directorate.
Personal approach: Delivers the message at grass roots level and directly confronts families who may be considering killing a girl child.
Community ownership: Involves the whole community so that no one individual is working to tackle the problem. In the past informants faced the wrath of the community.
Formation of committees.
Who needs to be consulted
State Government health and family welfare department.
Sustainable if the funding is available.
Chances of Replication
Tamil Nadu State Government plans to extend this scheme to Dharmapuri, Salem and Namakkal districts (where female infanticide is still practised) under the RCH2 programme.
Clare Kitchen, Research Consultant, ECTA, New Delhi. September 2004.