Acomputer teacher in a private school here has become the torchbearer of community action to protect the girl child and stop the illegal practice of female foeticide.
Every weekend, Ridhhi Behal and a group of volunteers visit villages in the district and set up small awareness camps for women against female foeticide.
''We try to bring in pregnant and newly married women and educate them about the illegal practice of female foeticide. We also inform them about various government schemes for the girl child,'' Behal said.
At the awareness camps, famous women leaders such as President Droupadi Murmu, former Prime minister Indira Gandhi, sports stars like Saina Nehwal are cited as examples to encourage the women.
''Women, especially in the rural pockets are made to believe that a girl child is a liability. This leads to incidents of female foeticide. Even if the girl is born she is denied equal opportunity as compared to her male siblings,'' Behal said.
''We try to educate these women against doing so,'' she added.
Behal, 47, began her endeavour in 2007 when a close relative was forced by her in-laws to terminate her pregnancy after they found that the unborn child was a girl. ''The incident shook me to the core and I decided to do something about it,'' she recalled.
While she started alone, more and more people and organisations have joined her and supported her work over the years.
Dr Deepa Saxena, a medical practitioner who accompanies Behal occasionally said, ''What Behal is doing is an essential service to society. We need more such efforts to ensure an equal society where a girl gets equal opportunities to grow as their male counterparts." As per the health department records, the sex ratio of Uttar Pradesh is 912, less than the national average of 940.
Amarjeet Bawa, a mother of four daughters, said she is proud of all of her children. ''Initially I was made to realise that I am somehow incomplete because I could not give birth to a son. Ridhhi Behal changed my mindset and realised that being a mother of four daughters is in fact a blessing," said Bawa, who is associated with Behal's mission.
"I help her ensure that other women who are in the same mental state in which I once was, get out of it," she added.
Chief Medical Officer Dr RK Gautam told PTI that Behal's initiative has the administration's full support. ''We try to provide her with all possible help in spreading awareness amongst women regarding girl child, birth control etc.," he said.
The CMO added that his department also runs campaigns against female foeticide with the support of ultrasound clinics in the district.