Declining Child Sex Ratio

The term ‘epidemic’ has a new meaning in India. In a country where a selective ‘human breeding’ is rampant, figures throw up some of the most startling trends in history. India represents one of the most adverse Child Sex Ratio (CSR) figures amongst the Southeast Asian countries, reflecting a highly undesirable reversal of the norms of nature.

Female Foeticide

“Invest only Rs. 600 now and save your precious Rs. 50,000 later…”

-Catchline issued by one of the flourishing clinics dealing with sex determination

The 2001 Census conducted by Government of India, showed a sharp decline in the child sex ratio in 80% districts of India. India, in all its glory of being an IT superpower and one of the fastest developing countries, tragically represents the lowest child sex ratio in the world.Systematic gender discrimination in India is reported to have claimed up to a whopping 50 million female lives. The Census Report of 2001 reveals a highly skewed child sex ratio (0-6 year-olds), that fell from 945 females per 1,000 males in 1991 to an all-time low of 927 in 2001. The ratio even dropped further to 800:1,000 in some specific parts of the country. Additional data from the India’s birth and death registration service indicates that the figures have further fallen to fewer than 900 females per 1,000 men over the last few years.

The Background

Atrocities against women in various forms have been an integral part of the civilization since ages. However, India has unabashedly been home to some of the most barbaric acts against this ‘gentler’ breed of humanity, starting from dowry deaths and sati, going up to female infanticide and female foeticide. Technology facilitates a series of pre-natal diagnostic tools to identify and cure any potential birth defects and associated conditions. In a gross misuse of the scientific tools, female fetuses are selectively aborted after such pre-natal sex determination, in spite of a massive influx of legal regulations banning the same. Techniques such as Amniocentesis were introduced in 1975 to identify any genetic abnormalities. Sadly, these soon became a tool for sex determination and proved to be a call of death for the tiny unborn female fetuses. What is most alarming is that the CSR is far more skewed in the ‘Bermuda Triangle’, which includes the land-rich and affluent states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The national capital, New Delhi, is also known to be on top of the list. As per the latest government data available pertaining to births, the CSR in Punjab stood at a mere 775 females per 1000 males. Shockingly, a recent survey of 10 villages around Chandigarh (that fall within 29 km radius of the city), revealed that the number of boys outnumbered girls in every village. Reports indicate that more than 12,000 sex determination tests were carried out across the scores of private clinics in 1997 in Delhi alone. In fact, the steep rise in sex crimes in Delhi has also been attributed to the unequal sex ratio. In the same year, 105 female infants had been reportedly killed every month in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. The apathetic attitude of the administration coupled with inefficient legislative implementation further adds to the woes of the girl child in India, facing elimination and discrimination in their very right to live.