Recently, a report titled “Vital Statistics of India based on the Civil Registration System” published by Registrar General of India, revealed that Arunachal Pradesh recorded the best sex ratio while Manipur recorded the worst sex ratio. Sex ratio is an important indicator of measuring the gender gap in the population as it is a measure of the number of females born per 1000 males.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE REPORT
According to the report, Arunachal Pradesh recorded 1,084 females born per thousand males that were followed by Nagaland which recorded 965 females born per thousand males, followed by Kerala that recorded 963 females born per thousand males. Amongst the worst performers, Manipur has recorded a deplorable sex ratio with 757 females born per thousand males followed by Lakshadweep recorded 839 females born per thousand males followed by Daman and Diu that recorded 877 females born per thousand males. Delhi recorded a sex ratio of 929 whereas Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat recorded 914, 896, and 896 respectively. The report was published based on data provided by 30 states and Union Territories as the information from six states namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Maharashtra, UP and West Bengal was not available. The report highlights a glaring picture as the sex ratio at birth in India declined from 906 in 2011 to 899 in 2018. Although the per capita income of India increased nearly 10 times over the last 65 years India’s sex ratio at birth has declined. One of the reasons for decreasing sex ratio with rising in per capita income is the increase in access to sex-selective procedures
ISSUES RELATED TO LOWER SEX RATIO AT BIRTH
In his very famous article “Missing Women”, Prof. Amartya Sen has statistically proved that during the last century, 100 million women have been missing in South Asia. These women didn’t even take birth and were killed in wombs. Moreover, the women who were fortunate enough to take birth were further faced with various discriminations and exploitation leading to death. Further, this imbalance in sex ratio has various repercussions that aggravate the deplorable conditions of women especially in states like Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan that usually record the worst sex ratio. These states have such a poor sex ratio that men import brides from other states and the condition is so dismal one woman is married to 4 or 5 brothers in a family that various sociologists term as modern Draupadi. This leads to the exploitation of these brides coupled with
various forms of violence.
Bringing behavioral and attitudinal change is what we highly require to not only improve the sex ratio but also to improve the conditions of women in our society. It is very unfortunate that urban areas also record a dismal sex ratio that signifies that literate and educated people from higher strata of society also indulge in sex-selective abortions. In pursuit of this, the government’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Campaign is a remarkable step that has achieved success in bringing behavioral change among people. Moreover, there is an urgent need to educate the young population about reproductive health and to inculcate gender sensitivity among them. For this, the services of ASHA can be used especially in rural areas.
STRICTER ENFORCEMENT OF LAW
Although laws like PCPNDT prohibits and punishes sex determination tests and sex-selective abortions despite this, the law is highly misused by doctors, hospitals that conduct sex determination tests by ultrasound machines. Therefore, we require stricter enforcement of laws to prevent sex-selective abortions as well as to punish those who indulge in such practices.