Sex ratio continues to slide: ActionAid

Sex ratio continues to slide: ActionAid

New Delhi: Inspite of girl-friendly policies, public information campaigns and effective redressal systems that can track and bring violators to book, sex ratios continue to slide.

Those performing sex detection tests and aborting female foetuses manage to get away, leading to the proportion of girls to boys in several key states with a severely skewed sex ratio. This was the finding of research carried out by NGO, ActionAid.

The data collected by the researchers after interviewing a sample of over 6000 households in five districts across four states shows a drop in sex ratios in four out of five districts compared to the 2001 census.

Key Findings

* In Punjab, the sex ratio in the Jat Sikh community in rural areas was 500 girls for every 1000 boys. This was far worse in Brahmin families in urban Punjab, where the ratio was a shocking 300

* Squeeze in family size as a major reason for skewed sex ratio; families in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh prefer having just one child and preference is always given to a male child

* Squeeze on family size is fuelling the trend of ‘disappearing’ daughters

* Districts surveyed in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh show a dip in sex ratio as families move from first to second or third child; biggest drop recorded in Morena, (MP) with 844 girls for every 1000 boys amongst the first-born, but just 715 by the third child

* Mortality rate for the girl child increases dramatically when we look at the birth order; girls born second or third in the family are more susceptible to go ‘missing’ as families pursue their preference for boys through abortion or neglect of the girl child

* Correlation between sliding sex ratio and shift from agriculture to non-agricultural work; as land holdings and agricultural incomes diminish, districts are showing lower sex ratio; rural Kangra (Himachal Pradesh) and Morena (Madhya Pradesh) reflect this trend clearly

* While women contribute to agriculture, non-agricultural earnings are seen largely as a male preserve; as the search for work increasingly involves migrating far from home, girls become ’unwanted’ in the family

* Modern technologies of sex-selection such as ultrasound combine with traditional ‘technologies’ of mantras and astrology to offer more options for those who desire male progeny

* Even in poorer rural areas, families are willing to spend a significant chunk of their income on traveling to sex test centres in towns to detect the gender of the foetus