Sunday, 22 July 2012

FEMALE SEX - RATIO IN INDIA – A REVIEW

(This article was published in the “Development Research And Social Action – An International Journal Volume 8 Issue 1 and 2, January- Dec.2012)


                                                       -Dr. S .Vijay Kumar


        “Yathra nariyasthu pujyathe ramanthe ththra devethha”, the meaning of this Sanskrit sloka is, where women are respected, there angels will reside. This shows that in the Vedic Age (1500-1000 BC), women enjoyed great respect and freedom in the society. In fact far superior position to the men of that time. "Sakthi" a feminine term means "power" and "strength". It is evident from the ancient scripts that the women like Vishwavara, Gosa, Gaargi and Mythreya learnt and chanted Vedaas. They participated in Vedhantha discussions. But, due to repeated attacks on India by Muslims and the British through centuries changed the situation, gradually male domination increased in the society.    

       Girl child is the future of every nation and India is no exception. A little amount of care, a handful of warmth and a heart full of love for a girl child can make a big difference. Close your eyes, free your thoughts and hear the voice of God, He is saying something to all of us, “Save Me”. India is a country where social disadvantage outweighs natural biological advantage of being a girl. A whole range of discriminatory practices including female feticide, female infanticide, female genital mutilation, son idolization, early marriage and dowry have buried the future of the nation. In India, discriminatory practices have greatly influenced the health and well-being of a girl child, resulting in a higher mortality rate. It is said that God created mothers because He could not be present everywhere. It is unbelievable to realize that a God’s representative is continuously killing someone beautiful even before she can come out and see the beauty of nature.

       Given the traditional preference for a male child, it is not surprising that right from the first census of 1871, India has consistently shown an abnormal sex ratio (940 women for every 1000 men). Even in the 2011 census, the situation is not changed; the sex ratio is same as that of 1871, that is, 940 women for every 1000 men. Thus, the position remains unchanged even after 64 years of independence.

Sex – Ratio in India From 1901 - 2011
          
Census Year
Sex Ratio
(Females Per 1000 male)
                
1901

972
     
1911        

964
 
1921        

955
                
1931

950
                
1941

945
                
1951

946
   
1961          

941
                
1971

930

1981

934
                
1991

927
                
2001

933
                
2011

940

Analysis:
It is evident from the above table that in 1901 the sex ratio is 972 and it is continuously declined up to 1941. Again, though there are ups downs from 1951, the overall sex ratio in the country improved from 933 in 2001 to 940 in 2011, the highest recorded sex ratio since the 1971 census.

Sex- Ratio of India is compared with its neighbors & others
Sl. No.
            
Country
  
2001          
       
2011
1
World
986
984
2
China
944
926
3
India
933
940
4
Pakistan
938
943
5
Bangladesh
958
978
6
Sri Lanka
1010
1034
7
Nepal
1005
1014
8
Afaganistan
930
931
9
Bhutan
919
897
10
Mynmar
1011
1048
11
USA
1029
1025
12
Indoesia
1004
988
13
Brazil
1025
1042
14
Russia Fed.
1140
1167
15
Japan
1041
1055
16
Nigeria
1016
987

Source: 2001-World Population Prospects (mid year estimates) 1998 2. 2011-World Population Prospects 2008 revision UN. Rates have been worked out for India based on the provisional Census 2011 and those of Indonesia and Brazil on 2010 round of Census

Analysis:
It is evident from the above table that India’s sex ratio is less when compared with our neighbors – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mynmar and with other countries like USA, Russia Fed., Japan, Indonesia, Brezil, Nigeria and better than China, Afganistan and Bhutan in 2011.

State -  wise Sex Ratio in India in 2011 compared with 2001 census:

Sl. No.
States/Union Territory #
Total 2001
Total 2011
Change
1
Jammu & Kashmir
892
883
-1.01%
2
Himachal Pradesh
968
974
0.62%
3
Punjab
876
893
1.94%
4
Chandigarh #
777
818
5.28%
5
Uttarakhand
962
963
0.10%
6
Haryana
861
877
1.86%
7
NCT of Delhi #
821
866
5.48%
8
Rajasthan
921
926
0.54%
9
Uttar Pradesh
898
908
1.11%
10
Bihar
919
916
-0.33%
11
Sikkim
875
889
1.60%
12
Arunachal Pradesh
893
920
3.02%
13
Nagaland
900
931
3.44%
14
Manipur
974
987
1.33%
15
Mizoram
935
975
4.28%
16
Tripura
948
961
1.37%
17
Meghalaya
972
986
1.44%
18
Assam
935
954
2.03%
19
West Bengal
934
947
1.39%
20
Jharkhand
941
947
0.64%
21
Orissa
972
978
0.62%
22
Chhattisgarh
989
991
0.20%
23
Madhya Pradesh
919
930
1.20%
24
Gujarat
920
918
-0.22%
25
Daman & Diu #
710
618
-12.96%
26
Dadra & Nagar Haveli #
812
775
-4.56%
27
Maharashtra
922
925
0.33%
28
Andhra Pradesh
978
992
1.43%
29
Karnataka
965
968
0.31%
30
Goa
961
968
0.73%
31
Lakshadweep #
948
946
-0.21%
32
Kerala
1058
1084
2.46%
33
Tamil Nadu
987
995
0.81%
34
Puducherry #
1001
1038
3.70%
35
Andaman & Nicobar Islands #
846
878
3.78%
INDIA
933
940
0.75%
Source: 2001 and 2011 Census

Analysis:
The overall sex ratio in the country improved from 933 to 940, the highest recorded sex ratio since the 1971 census. Even though the sex ratio has improved experts say, millions of women are still missing. For the first time in the last decade, females have outnumbered males in Goa which has recorded an 8.17 percent growth in overall population. Three states-J&K, Gujarat and Bihar, showed a decline in the sex ratio. During the last decade sex ratio in India has increased 0.75%, but it is still not satisfactory.

In 2011 Census Top five states with highest female sex ratio in India are –

  1. Kerala has the highest sex ratio of 1084 female per 1000 male.
  2. Puducherry(U/T) has a sex ratio of 1038 female per 1000 male.
  3. Tamil Nadu has a sex ratio of 995 female per 1000 male.
  4. Andhra Pradesh has a sex ratio of 992 female per 1000 male.
  5. Chhattisgarh has a sex ratio of 991 female per 1000 male

In 2011 Census Bottom five states with lowest female sex ratio in India are -

4 of bottom five are 4 union territories and that includes Delhi at number four.
  1. Daman in Daman & Diu(U/T) has the lowest sex ratio of only 618 females per 1000 male.
  2. Dadra & Nagar Haveli another union territory also has a very low sex ratio of 775 female per 1000 male.
  3. Chandigarh has a sex ratio of 818 female per 1000 male.
  4. NCT of Delhi has a sex ratio of 866 female per 1000 male.
  5. Haryana has a sex ratio of 877 female per 1000 male.
There have been some huge negative changes of female sex ratio in states like Daman Diu and Dara & Nagar Haveli. Sex ratio dropped 12.96% during last decade in Daman Diu and 4.56% in Dadra Nagar Haveli. Jammu & Kashmir also has a negative change of 1.01%.
Though Delhi has a positive change of 5.48% in female sex ratio but it is still in the bottom five list. Chandigarh also shows some improvement of 5.28% from last census. Female sex ratio increased about 4% in states like Mizoram, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and some other.

State wise Change in Child Sex Ratio during the decade in India

Sr
States/Union Territory #
0-6 in 2001
0-6 in 2011
Change
Total 2001
Total 2011
Change
INDIA
927
914
-1.40%
933
940
0.75%
1
Jammu & Kashmir
941
859
-8.71%
892
883
-1.01%
2
Himachal Pradesh
896
906
1.12%
968
974
0.62%
3
Punjab
798
846
6.02%
876
893
1.94%
4
Chandigarh #
845
867
2.60%
777
818
5.28%
5
Uttarakhand
908
886
-2.42%
962
963
0.10%
6
Haryana
819
830
1.34%
861
877
1.86%
7
NCT of Delhi #
868
866
-0.23%
821
866
5.48%
8
Rajasthan
909
883
-2.86%
921
926
0.54%
9
Uttar Pradesh
916
899
-1.86%
898
908
1.11%
10
Bihar
942
933
-0.96%
919
916
-0.33%
11
Sikkim
963
944
-1.97%
875
889
1.60%
12
Arunachal Pradesh
964
960
-0.41%
893
920
3.02%
13
Nagaland
964
944
-2.07%
900
931
3.44%
14
Manipur
957
934
-2.40%
974
987
1.33%
15
Mizoram
964
971
0.73%
935
975
4.28%
16
Tripura
966
953
-1.35%
948
961
1.37%
17
Meghalaya
973
970
-0.31%
972
986
1.44%
18
Assam
965
957
-0.83%
935
954
2.03%
19
West Bengal
960
950
-1.04%
934
947
1.39%
20
Jharkhand
965
943
-2.28%
941
947
0.64%
21
Orissa
953
934
-1.99%
972
978
0.62%
22
Chhattisgarh
975
964
-1.13%
989
991
0.20%
23
Madhya Pradesh
932
912
-2.15%
919
930
1.20%
24
Gujarat
883
886
0.34%
920
918
-0.22%
25
Daman & Diu #
926
909
-1.84%
710
618
-12.96%
26
Dadra & Nagar Haveli #
979
924
-5.62%
812
775
-4.56%
27
Maharashtra
913
883
-3.29%
922
925
0.33%
28
Andhra Pradesh
961
943
-1.87%
978
992
1.43%
29
Karnataka
946
943
-0.32%
965
968
0.31%
30
Goa
938
920
-1.92%
961
968
0.73%
31
Lakshadweep #
959
908
-5.32%
948
946
-0.21%
32
Kerala
960
959
-0.10%
1058
1084
2.46%
33
Tamil Nadu
942
946
0.42%
987
995
0.81%
34
Puducherry #
967
965
-0.21%
1001
1038
3.70%
35
Andaman & Nicobar Islands #
957
966
0.94%
846
878
3.78%

Source: 2001 and 2011 Census

Analysis:

           The Census indicated a continuing preference for male children over female children. A matter of overwhelming concern lies in the fact that the child sex ratio has slipped to its lowest since India's independence. The sex ratio (the number of females per 1,000 males) for the 0-6 age group has dramatically dropped to 914 in 2011, from 927 in 2001. Child sex – ratio dropped by 1.40% during the last decade, while over all sex ratio raised to 0.75% in India.

           This means in a decade when the country enjoyed unprecedented economic growth, it also became a terrifyingly hostile place to be conceived or born as a girl. "It's extremely alarming and everybody should be worried and careful against this malaise," said Girija Vyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women. She said "Convictions under the Act are very low. Female feticide is high even in states that have high education and are affluent. The government needs to step in and act urgently.”

As of Census 2011 top three states for child sex ratio are

           Mizoram has the highest child sex ratio of 971 girls per 1000 boys followed by Meghalaya with 970 girls per 1000 boys and Andaman & Nicobar Islands with 966 girls per 1000 boys. Though Meghalaya has a negative growth of 0.31% for child sex ratio, the state still sands on the second position.

Bottom three states for child sex ratio in India are

             Haryana with only 830 girls per 1000 boys. Next is Punjab with 846 girls per 1000 boys and Jammu & Kashmir with 859 girls per 1000 boys. Punjab registered the highest growth of 6.02% in child sex ratio during the decade. Unfortunately Jammu & Kashmir has a whopping -8.71% negative growth and that bring the sex ratio from 941 to just 859.


       In last 10 years only 6 states and 2 union territories out of 35 states/union territories in India have a positive growth in child sex ratio. Only 4 out of these 8 states/UTs have a change of above 1%. Those are Punjab with 6.02%, Chandigarh(UT) with 2.60%, Haryana with 1.34% and Himachal Pradesh with 1.12%. 
            

Current status of the Girl child (11th FYP):
A perusal of the various indicators reflects the dismal situation of the girl child. The sharp decline in female sex ratios over the years suggests that female feticide and infanticide might be primarily responsible for this phenomenon followed by general neglect of the girl child. The sex ratio has been dwindling even in States like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat which are supposed to be economically prosperous. Female infanticide has been reported from parts of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The magnitude of girl child mortality is reflected from the fact that every year, about 12 million girls are born in India; a third of these girls die in the first year of their life; three million, or 25 per cent, do not survive to see their fifteenth birthday. The child mortality rate between 0- 4 years for girl child is 20.6%, two percent more than that of boys (18.6%). The root cause of malnutrition amongst girls is not just poverty and lack of nutritious food, but also like lack of value attached to girls.
           
International agreements: Key international agreements that provide added standards for governments in realizing reproductive health and rights are the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development; the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women; and the 2001 and 2006 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS. These landmark agreements promote human rights, gender equality and empowerment as critical to the overall development and well-being of women, girls and young women. In the context of the HIV epidemic, governments pledged at their meeting in 2001 to progress by 2005 on a number of actions. “They pledged to “ensure development and accelerated implementation of national strategies for women’s empowerment, the promotion and protection of women’s full enjoyment of all human rights and reduction of their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS through the elimination of all forms of discrimination, as well as forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful traditional and customary practices ...”The failure of many HIV programmes to integrate reproductive health concerns in areas of high prevalence amounts to discrimination against child brides, who are more likely to require frequent use of reproductive health services. In spite of different nations pledge on the
various platforms of International Forums, there is no much progress with regard to women and children.  

Rural and Urban sex ratio in India:

State wise Rural and Urban sex ratio in India as per 2011 Census:

Sr
State/UT#
R - Total
R - Male
R - Female
R - Sex ratio
U - Total
U - Male
U - Female
U - Sex ratio
1
JAMMU & KASHMIR
9134820
4809619
4325201
899
3414106
1855942
1558164
840
2
HIMACHAL PRADESH
6167805
3102262
3065543
988
688704
371630
317074
853
3
PUNJAB
17316800
9086466
8230334
906
10387436
5548353
4839083
872
4
CHANDIGARH #
29004
17155
11849
691
1025682
563127
462555
821
5
UTTARAKHAND
7025583
3512456
3513127
1000
3091169
1641722
1449447
883
6
HARYANA
16531493
8791036
7740457
880
8821588
4714094
4107494
871
7of
NCT OF DELHI #
419319
227000
192319
847
16333916
8749410
7584506
867
8
RAJASTHAN
51540236
26680882
24859354
932
17080776
8939204
8141572
911
9
UTTAR PRADESH
155111022
81044655
74066367
914
44470455
23551760
20918695
888
10
BIHAR
92075028
47983851
44091177
919
11729609
6201496
5528113
891
11
SIKKIM
455962
242122
213840
883
151726
79539
72187
908
12
ARUNACHAL PRADESH
1069165
554304
514861
929
313446
165928
147518
889
13
NAGALAND
1406861
724595
682266
942
573741
301112
272629
905
14
MANIPUR
1899624
966264
933360
966
822132
403500
418632
1038
15
MIZORAM
529037
271319
257718
950
561977
281020
280957
1000
16
TRIPURA
2710051
1385505
1324546
956
960981
486362
474619
976
17
MEGHALAYA
2368971
1194757
1174214
983
595036
297911
297125
997
18
ASSAM
26780516
13689739
13090777
956
4388756
2265188
2123568
937
19
WEST BENGAL
62213676
31904144
30309532
950
29134060
15023245
14110815
939
20
JHARKHAND
25036946
12775468
12261478
960
7929292
4156220
3773072
908
21
ORISSA
34951234
17584859
17366375
988
6996124
3616819
3379305
934
22
CHHATTISGARH
19603658
9792514
9811144
1002
5936538
3035401
2901137
956
23
MADHYA PRADESH
52537899
27142409
25395490
936
20059666
10470511
9589155
916
24
GUJARAT
34670817
17802975
16867842
947
25712811
13679307
12033504
880
25
DAMAN & DIU #
60331
32317
28014
867
182580
117783
64797
550
26
DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI #
183024
98250
84774
863
159829
94928
64901
684
27
MAHARASHTRA
61545441
31593580
29951861
948
50827531
26767817
24059714
899
28
ANDHRA PRADESH
56311788
28219760
28092028
995
28353745
14290121
14063624
984
29
KARNATAKA
37552529
19010998
18541531
975
23578175
12046744
11531431
957
30
GOA
551414
276121
275293
997
906309
464590
441719
951
31
LAKSHADWEEP #
14121
7228
6893
954
50308
25878
24430
944
32
KERALA
17455506
8403706
9051800
1077
15932171
7617584
8314587
1091
33
TAMIL NADU
37189229
18663701
18525528
993
34949729
17495170
17454559
998
34
PUDUCHERRY #
394341
194388
199953
1029
850123
416097
434026
1043
35
A & N ISLANDS #
244411
130647
113764
871
135533
71683
63850
891

INDIA
833087662
427917052
405170610
947
377105760
195807196
181298564
926

Source: 2011 Census

Analysis:  

States where rural female sex ratio is higher than or equal to male are:
Kerala: 1,077
Puduchhery U: 1,029
Chhatishgarh: 1,002
Uttarakhand: 1,000

States where Urban female sex ratio is higher than or equal to male are:

Kerala: 1,091
Puduchhery UT: 1,043
Manipur: 1038
Mizoram: 1000


Chandigarh has the lowest rural sex ratio in India. Female sex ratio in rural Chandigarh is only 691. NCT of Delhi also has very low both rural and urban female sex ratio. It is 847 in rural and 867 in urban NCT of Delhi. Daman & Diu(UT) has the lowest urban female sex ratio of only 550 women in every 1000 men.

Growth of Rural and Urban sex ratio in India:

After last census in 20011, sex ratio in urban India has grown quite impressively but it has almost no change in rural India. In 2001 census rural India had a female sex ratio of 946 which increased by 1 and it is now 947 females per 1000 males. Urban India had a sex ratio of 900 at 2001 and it increased by 26 and reached 926 females per 1000 males in 2011.

Factors responsible for low female sex - ratio in India:

Gender discrimination (Preference for son): The bias against females in India is grounded in cultural, economic and religious roots. Sons are expected to work in the fields, provide greater income and look after parents in old age. In this way, sons are looked upon as a type of insurance. In addition, in a patriarchal society, sons are responsible for "preservation" of the family name. Also, as per Hindu belief, lighting the funeral pyre by a son is considered necessary for salvation of the spirit. "There is a bias against the girl child", says Poonam Mutreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India.
The worst-affected areas in terms of sex ratio, according to the 2011 census, are western Maharashtra, western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.


Females are blamed for not having sons:  For no fault of them, usually females are blamed for not having sons. This is unfortunate, because they produce only xx chromosomes, while males produce xy chromosomes which determines 'male.' As a result of harassment, in some cases females are committing suicides.

Discrimination against girl child: The girl child is subjected to discrimination with all respects – Education, marriage, employment etc. Sex determination continues to be practiced robustly and rampantly. As is sex discrimination — girls are given less food, less health care, less education and even less affection. Also, it seems policies for the girl child haven’t done much to improve the situation. Girls also have higher levels of malnutrition that place them at higher risk of both illness and death. In a survey in 2002 carried out by Vacha, a Mumbai-based women’s resource centre, it was seen that 69% of girls between 9-13 in municipal schools in Mumbai were suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition. According to UNDP report, in Punjab, the male child is given preference when compared to female child. The people of the state are spending nearly double amount on male child when compared to female child for their brought up.

Failure of stringent laws: The consistently declining child sex ratio - i.e. the number of female children per 1000 male children in the 0 to 6 age group, is a testimony to the failure of the fairly stringent laws against sex determination tests (SDTs) in India.

MTP (Abortion), female feticide and infanticide:
In India, female infanticide has been practiced for centuries with the earliest evidence being provided by Sir Jonathan Duncan in 1789. [With the availability of new technology, the bias suffered by females from birth to the grave is being extended to womb to tomb. According to the provisional data of the 2011 census of India, child sex ratio continues to plummet, indicating that female feticide and infanticide remain rampant. States like Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are most popular for practicing female foeticide and infanticide.  About 70% of all abortions performed in Delhi are terminations due to the fetus being female.
Amartya Sen refers to the abortions of the female fetus after determination of the sex of the fetus as "natality inequality." He designates the use of ultrasound as "high-tech sexism."The Research done by Prabhat Jha and his colleagues at St. Micheals Hospitals at University of Toronto and Rajesh Kumar of post graduate institute of medical education and research, Chandigarh discovered that the, “girl deficit” was more common among educated families, especially in homes where the first born was a girl. The desire to have a male heir was found to drive families to sex determination test and termination of pregnancy if the fetus was female. The Study is based on a national survey of 1.1 million Indian households further claims that five lakh female babies are lost in India every year because of selective abortion.

Dowry: The evil practice of dowry is widely prevalent in India. As a result, daughters are considered to be an economic liability. The dowry system in India which is likely to contribute to the lesser child sex ratio. Women have little control over economic resources and the best way for an Indian bride to gain domestic power mainly comes from her ability to produce children, in particular, sons.

Higher mortality of females (young girls, maternal mortality, and female infanticide): Throughout the census history of India till 1991, the main factor responsible for the numerical deficit of females was excess female mortality. The numerical impact of the higher female mortality was expressed in terms of "missing women" was devised by Amartya Sen to give some rough idea of the enormity of the problem. According to more recent estimates 50 million women are missing in India alone.  Due to Delivery deaths (maternal deaths) also the number of females is decreasing. It came to know that in India for every 14 minutes a woman dies from pregnancy and complications of child birth.

Implications of Declining Female Sex Ratio:
Marriage squeeze: ‘Marriage squeeze’ characterized by inability of men in marriageable age to find suitable partners. Marriage is universal in India and men typically marry younger women with age gap of normally not exceeding five years. Already declining child sex ratio plummets further; there is a probability that each successive cohort will contain lesser and lesser women relative to men. As (in and out) migration do not substantially alter the cohort sex composition, it is likely that more men compete for comparatively lesser number of women in the marriage market.
Postponing the marriages: Postponing the marriage longer by marrying late, looking for brides who may be younger than usual or even older, etc. In any case these options are not desirable. The age at marriage, when involuntarily pushed upward as a result of inability in finding a match will result in longer spousal gaps.
Re-emergence of “bride price”: There are reports that scarcity of women in an environment of poverty and lack of development has led to re-emergence of “bride price”, the system of paying money to obtain a wife, and sharing of wives in some communities in Rajasthan, who are in the lower echelons of the society in terms of caste hierarchies and economic position (India Today, September 1, 2001). If this continues in a wider scale, it is the rich and powerful who are better poised for matrimony than others.

Crime against women: Difficulties and inability in finding a female partner would lead to social tensions, particularly manifested in crime against women.

Boy-Girl Tests: The increasing and widespread incidence of “Boy-Girl tests" in urban centers will have serious consequences. In Mumbai and Delhi, the child sex ratio is far below the national average and the girl population has dropped in 23 cities.

Deterioration of ethics: If the situation of decline in sex ratio becomes serious, ethics will deteriorate in the society, as a consequence, for biological need prostitution will increase, and family taboos will also deteriorate.

Suggestions:

  • Change in attitude of men: Men should change their attitude towards women. Unless men start regarding women as their equal partners, in the growth of humanity this differentiation between men and women shall continue unabated. No single item of achievement like education, profession, legal rights or even the mixture of all these will work out a solution - the only feasible solution is the change of mind, the change of attitude of the men towards women. Till this is done, no amount of teaching, preaching or bargaining will help the girl child.
  • Change in attitude of women: There is a proverb in Telugu that “A woman is enemy to another woman”. Eeven women have to change their attitude towards the girl child/ women. At least partly women are themselves responsible for their position. As women it is they who pamper their sons and husbands till they begin to believe that they are really superior beings.
  • Gender discrimination: There should be full stop for gender discrimination and an end to son preference. Both and boys and girls should be treated equal in all aspects.
  • Intensive Information, Education and Communication (IEC): Intensive Information, Education and Communication campaigns for raising awareness among the public regarding the serious consequences of decline in female sex ratio. We can understand the gravity of the situation by the statement of GK Pillai, Union Home Secretary that “Whatever major steps that have been put in the last 40 years have not had any impact in the child sex ratio and therefore it requires complete review. Every policy measure has to be looked into at the central government, state government and at the panchayat level".   Recently, on the eve of International Women Day, while presenting ‘Sthri Shakthi’ Awards, Mrs. Prathibha Devi Singh Patil said “It is great concern for me that the female population in the country is only 58.6 crores, while male population is 62.3 crores and thus there is a deficit of 3.7 crores female population. Further, much more worry is about declining girl child sex ratio (0-6), which has declined to 914 girl children per 1000 male children for the first time after independence.

  • Mass media: The mass media must be involved in promoting a positive image of women. School and college girls should be the target audience. However, this should be combined with highlighting the issue and dangers of female feticide and skewed gender ratio.
  • Reframing policies: Globalization has presented new challenges for realization of the goal of women’s equality, the gender impact of which has not been systematically evaluated fully. However from the macro-level studies that are commissioned by the Department of Women and Child Development, it is evident that there is   a need for reframing policies for access to employment and quality of employment.
  • MTP: MTP providers need to be more vigilant when performing second-trimester abortions. While the feminist discourse on abortion advocates that abortion is a right over one's body, sex-selective abortion in itself is a form of female violence.
  • Women empowerment: Education of women is a powerful tool for improving nutrition levels, raising the age at marriage, acceptance of family planning, improvement in self-image, and their empowerment. India has ratified at various international conventions and human rights instruments committing to secure equal rights of women. Key among them is ratification of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1993.
  • Reducing the gender gap: Reducing the gender gap in secondary and higher education would be a focus area, with a special focus on girls and women, particularly those belonging to weaker sections including the SC/ST/BC/Minorities.
  • NGOs Role: NGOs may be encouraged to promote formation of self-help groups, organize non-formal education for adult females and school dropouts, create employment opportunities for women as well as provide counseling and support services to newly married and pregnant women to discourage them from undergoing sex-selective abortion.
  • Role of medical colleges and professional bodies:
    T
    he role of medical colleges and professional bodies such as Indian Medical Association (IMA), Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and association of radiologists, in countering this burning issue needs to be given due importance. This may include:
  • Sensitizing medical students regarding the adverse sex ratio while stressing upon the ethical issues involved in female feticide.
  • Conduct regular workshops/ Continuing Medical Education sessions which would greatly help to reiterate the importance of this problem in the country. Private practitioners should also be encouraged to participate in such programs.
  • Organize awareness campaigns in field practice areas.
  • Warning Signals:   
  • "It (the decline in child sex ratio) was expected, but it is a warning signal for the nation to wake up," Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research, said. She said the law banning sex-based abortion "is not stringently implemented". "The caution should be taken seriously. We are leading to a crisis situation," she said. Social activist Dr Sabu George said the larger cause for concern was the fact that previously unaffected states were also indulging in sex determination because of aggressive promotion of the sex selection tests by doctors.
  • Regular check and serous punishment: There should be regular check and serious punishment for sex determination tests, female feticide, infanticide and illegal abortions.
  • Save the Girl Child Campaign:  "Save the Girl Child campaign"launched by Government of India must be intensified. One of its main objectives is to lessen the preference for a son by highlighting the achievements of young girls. To achieve the long-term vision, efforts are afloat to create an environment where sons and daughters are equally valued. Boys need to be educated at an early level with regard to giving respect and equal regard to girls.
  • Dowry: The evil practice of dowry is widely prevalent in India. This should be curbed by implementing stringent laws and punishment.
  • Strategies to Curb Female Feticide: To take steps to improve the status of women in the society and the other to ensure effective implementation of the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act so that families find it difficult to undertake sex determination and selective abortion.
    The steps primarily intend to provide them with greater opportunities for education, employment and greater say in the matters of governance. They have included steps to correct the bias in terms of inheritance rights.
  • Malnutrition: In view of the high risk of malnutrition and disease that women face at all the three critical stages viz., infancy, childhood, adolescent and reproductive phase, focused attention would be paid to meeting the nutritional needs of women at all stages of life cycle.
  • Positive Economic and Social policies: Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential. 
  • Equal Rights: The de-jure and de-facto enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all spheres-political, economic, social cultural and civil should be given.
  • Equal Access: Equal access to participation, decision making of women in social, political and economic life of the nation, equal remuneration, occupational health and safety, social security and public office etc. is essential.
  • Strengthening legal systems: Strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women is the need of the hour.

To conclude, India has yet a long way to go in her fight against declining female sex ratio, pre-birth elimination of females. Time is quickly ticking away. A shortage of girls would lead to a shortage of eligible brides thus making the girl a "scarce commodity". According to United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) projection, by the year 2025 a significant share of men above 30 would still be single, and that many will never be able to marry at all. Men in the states of Haryana and Punjab are already experiencing a nearly 20% deficit of marriageable women. A concerted effort by the medical fraternity, the law, political leaders, NGOs, media, teachers and the community itself is the need of the hour.

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REFERENCES

Swami Harshananda. An Introduction to Hindu Culture. 1st Edition. Bangalore (India): Ramakrishna Math; 2008.
2001 and 2011 Census.
11th Five Year Plan, GoI.
1994 International Conference on Population and Development; the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women; and the 2001 and 2006 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on       HIV/AIDS.
Bandyopadhyay S, Singh A. History of son preference and sex selection in India and in the west. Bull Indian Inst Hist Med Hyderabad 2003;33:149-67
Ghosh S. The female child in India: A struggle for survival. Bull Nutr Found India 1987;8:4
Dyson T, Moore M. On Kinship structure, female autonomy, and demographic Behavior in India,. Popul Dev Rev 1983;9:35-60.  
Guilmoto CZ. Characteristics of sex ratio imbalance in India, and future scenarios. Paper for the 4th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights. Hyderabad, India: October 29-31, 2007.  
Lives at Risk: Declining Child Sex Ratios in India - seminal article in
1990, Amartya Sen.
Prabhat Jha and his colleagues and Rajesh Kumar research study:
The Hindu: 10-01-2006.
Institutions, organizations and gender equality in an era of  
Globalization – Arun Rao and David Kelleher.    
Haryana boys heading South in search of brides. Hindustan Times. [updated on 2007 June 25], [cited on 2008 June 2]. Available from:www.hindustantimes.com
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/census-2011-girl-chld-at-risk-as-sex-ratio-declines-95571&cp

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