and while you are reading.. some stats (SUnday’s TOI)
Sex ratio just keeps getting worse
Number Of Girls Has Declined In 80% Of Districts Since 1991
Himanshi Dhawan | TNN
New Delhi: It has been India’s worst kept secret, and things are getting worse. Despite booming growth rates and rising literacy, more girl children are being muffled into the silence of death at or before birth. Fresh statistics reveal that 80% of India’s districts have recorded a decline in sex ratios of children since 1991.
Among states with a bad record the worst offender is Punjab, where the ratio of girls has dropped from 875 in 1991 to 798 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2001. This chilling data has been accessed by The Times of India and is part of the latest report on “State of the World’s Children’’, which is due to be released by UNICEF soon.
Punjab is closely followed by Haryana, which has recorded a 60-point drop from 879 girls in 1991 to 819 in 2001. Chandigarh, Himachal and Uttaranchal follow the top two. A surprise entry to this hall of shame is Arunachal Pradesh, where the child sex ratio has dropped from 982 girls to 964 per 1,000 boys. Delhi, with all its cosmopolitan pretensions, has registered a 47-point drop from 915 girls to 868.
The only silver lining is Kerala where the sex ratio has increased marginally from 958 girls in 1991 to 960. Pondicherry and Lakshwadeep too find place in the group.
The report is a sweeping indictment of the efforts of governments to enforce laws against foeticide as well as killing of new-born girls. The all-India average is 927 girls for 1,000 boys which puts the country right at the bottom of the chart internationally, even below countries like strife-torn Nigeria (965) and Pakistan (958). According to the report, only China, with 832 girls, ranks below India on this dubious list.
According to sources, the dismal state of affairs is largely due to the misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques and the consequent increase in cases of female foeticide. “In prosperous states like Punjab and Haryana, people have both access and money to misuse technology,’’ a source said.
Incidentally, the report notes that incidence of female foeticide seem more prevalent in urban areas than rural regions. In Punjab, the number of girls in rural areas is 799 per 1,000 boys as against the urban record of 796.
Activists agree with the report. Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research said, “The drop in child sex ratio is both alarming and difficult to understand. The action taken by the government is dismal. It’s not just the concern of the health ministry but that of every department in the government. Tackling this requires a sensitisation campaign along the lines of HIV/AIDS.’’