NEW DELHI, April 25 - In a setback to Sonowal Government�s proposed two-child policy, Oxfam India has said that Assam�s draft population policy makes women, disadvantaged communities vulnerable. The proposed two-child policy is likely to further skew the ratio unfavourably as also seen in the case of China.
�The disincentives that Assam intends to put in place for people having more than two children are regressive and would disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged. Communities with higher fertility rates, which are usually the poorer ones, will be most impacted by such exclusionary measures. We hope the Assam Government will reconsider its policy,� said Oxfam India CEO Nisha Agrawal.
�The Government of Assam needs to focus on enabling measures to improve women�s education, health care and access to contraception. It is only these measures that have worked in any developing country to reduce population growth. Coercive measures can backfire as we have seen in China where the sex ratio has skewed due to the one child policy which the government had to ease up now,� said the Oxfam India CEO.
The draft policy proposes to make people with more than two children ineligible for government employment, electoral participation in panchayat and municipal elections. Additionally, it also suggests introduction of minimum educational qualification criteria for the contesting candidates, Oxfam India said.
Research in states that have enacted similar polices like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Haryana have shown that disqualification of candidates on basis of the number of children, has led to the desertion of families, unsafe abortions, giving away of children and initiation of new marriages by male elected members. Women have been reported to doubly bear the brunt of this disqualification clause. It is also a violation of the basic right of every citizen to participate in the democratic process,� Agrawal said.
The Assam Government announced the draft State Population Policy 2017 which proposes making education free for all girls up to university level. The policy also suggests that people with more than two children will be ineligible for Government jobs and polling in local elections.
The draft policy states that, �every family in Assam should have access to quality education, healthcare and employment opportunities�. However, the policy disputes its own positive action by proposing adoption of a coercive approach to promote the advantages of a small family.