India

Child Sex Ratio Will Not Be in Favour of Girls in Census 2021…

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

New Delhi: Post the release of Census 2011 data on Child Sex Ratio (CSR), the Sample Registration Survey (SRS) and the Civil Registration System (CRS) both the government sources have further shown a significant decline in the number of girls at birth in the states. 

According to the CRS data for 2012 to 2016, the states which have shown a decline in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) include Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This gives a clear indication that the CSR will not be in favour of girls in Census 2021 if the trend remains same in coming years, which means that ratio would go further down from 918 girls per thousand boys in 0-6 age group at the national level.

‘Unwantedness’ for girls and preference for sons over daughters prevails in almost all classes and castes of the society. Moreover, government policies around two-child norm conditionality along with poor implementation of laws such as Dowry Prohibition Act, inheritance law and property rights for women (Hindu Succession Act), Domestic Violence Act, rising crime against women and failure to give protection to survivors have further contributed to the fall in the status of girls, and daughter aversion fueled by the patriarchal mindset.

The drop in SRB is a matter of great concern since it is directly linked, in addition to multiple other factors, with the misuse of technology capable of detecting the sex. The entire operation of first sex determination test and then sex-selective elimination is done in secrecy. The couples pay to find out whether it is XY or XX and then pay more to eliminate XX. This discriminatory practice towards girls has worsened in the last two decades with easy access to ‘unregulated’ technology.

The falling SRB needs to be addressed by strengthening the implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act in the country which takes all technologies of sex determination, including the latest chromosome separation technique under its ambit and prohibits disclosure of sex.

While sharing her concern, Dr Neelam Singh, gynaecologist and a Girls Count member said, “The Government, in the last seven years has amended some Rules of the PCPNDT Act largely to counter the new trends emerging in clinical practice and to discipline the clinics who found new ways to evade the Rules. On the other hand, medical professionals have challenged the constitutional validity of the PCPNDT Act by filing writ petitions in various courts of law in the country and have also opposed state actions at times to the extent of denying pre-natal services to pregnant women”.

 Given the urgency and magnitude of the problem, there is an urgent need to convene a Parliamentary Forum on Declining Child Sex Ratio which should include Member of Parliaments from gender critical districts. The core task of the members should be to evolve a mechanism to closely monitor the implementation of legislation such as PCPNDT Act, Dowry, Domestic Violence Act in their districts.

“The parliamentarians must ensure setting up effective mechanisms with adequate infrastructure and trained personnel to address the issue of SRB and all related critical factors/aspects such as economic empowerment, skills, safety, mobility, livelihoods, property/assets, continuing education and retention beyond secondary education and restructuring of incentive schemes. Ideally, the forum should have a public-private collaborative approach by engaging the civil society representatives”, said Abha Bhaiya, Coordinator, One Billion Rising, India and a Girls Count member.

Varsha Deshpande, advocate empanelled with the National Commission for Women and a Girls Count member stated, “Parliamentary Forum should be set up as early as possible as the issue of discrimination against women and girls is very deep-rooted and cannot be addressed in isolation without the commitment of the Members of Parliament. The political affiliation of the Members of Parliament is of no consideration. All of them need to come together and take a unanimous call to ensure social justice to girls of the nation. It is the high time to move beyond the rhetoric of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”.

Girls Count is a national coalition of civil society organisations and activists committed to addressing factors that lead to a decline in the child sex ratio in India. With a membership of more than 400 organisations and individuals from different parts of the country, the coalition enables collective action to challenge patriarchy, stop sex selection and enhance the overall status of women and girls.

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