Bhopal: Bhopal's Bitiya Club is an initiative that went on to become the inspiration for the Madhya Pradesh government's hugely successful 'Beti Bachaao Aandolan'.
The Bitiya Club, a club for couples with only daughters, was created to instill pride in parents and reject the false sense of pity that parents of a girl child had to often go through. Eventually, members of this club became agents of social change working for the equality of the sexes and protection of the girl child. Through weekend meetings and events, members gathered to save the girl child.
Bitiya Club member Shilpi Agnani says, "Basically the idea was to create an awareness against female foeticide because there a skewed sex ratio. We want to create an awareness and basically we want to restore the dignity of the girl child. We have seen so many cases of violence against girls now a days."
Another member Dr Anil Mishra says, "This club came into existence with a very noble idea as the central point, we, basically a small number of families came together with the intention of creating awareness in the society. So initially, five to six people gathered. It was a very small beginning and then gradually, this club is growing in size. In a day or night we are very clear that we would not be able to change the societal norms but it is a very good beginning."
With over 300 families as members in three districts, this club has helped foster new ties and friendship among girls who are their parents' only children. A daughter Shravni Shinde says, "I feel very special and I'm loved by my parents but at times I do long for a brother or a sister but that's okay, you get all the love and you don't have to share it with anyone."
Kartika Mishra adds, "I feel very privileged because I get all the love and all the time of my parents. And yes I don't feel that emptiness that I don't have any siblings. My parents are my friends."
The slump in the child sex ratio in Madhya Pradesh from 932 to 912 in the 2011 census has jolted the BJP government. And it is here that the Bitiya Club is taking baby steps to bring about some positive change.