LUCKNOW: Of all things that world's seven billionth baby will stand for, stopping sex selection will top the priority. Reason: Census 2011 showsthat 7.1 million girls do not exist in India's natural equation of population. The most plausible explanation for the gap in number of girls and boys is the prenatal sex determination with subsequent selective abortion of female foetuses.
Researchers at the Center for Global Research, University of Toronto, Canada, have documented that the number of missing girls is rising in India. While the figure stood at 4.2 million in 1991, it touched 6 million in 2001 and stands at 7.1 million as of now. Close to 1.4 million missing girls are from UP where the world's seven billionth baby will be born on Monday.
The study has shown that selective abortion of girls, especially if the first-born is a female, has increased substantially in India. "Conditional sex ratio when the first-born was a girl fell from 906/1,000 boys in 1990 to 836/1,000 boys in 2005. No significant decline was observed if the first born baby was a boy or in case of first pregnancies," it states.
Researchers also noted that the decline in sex ratio was higher in mothers with 10 or more years of education than in illiterate ones while wealthier households were more particular about male successors than poorer ones.
The study also indicates that more people have become aware of sex selection in the last 20 years. In 1991, about 10% of the country's population lived in states where sex selection existed. The percentage rose to 27% in 2001 and stands at 56% now.
Researchers feel that efforts made to contain population have also contributed in disturbing the balance of sex ratio. The mean number of children per Indian woman fell from 3.8 in 1990 to 2.6 in 2008.
This skewed equation reflects in India's child sex ratio which has slipped from 927 to 915 in 10 years.
Census 2011shows that scenario in Chhattisgarh is scary where 764 women exist for every 1,000 men. Situation is alarming in Haryana (830), Punjab (846), Kashmir (859), Delhi (866), Maharashtra and Rajasthan (883) and Uttarakhand and Gujarat (886) and UP (899).
Dr Neelam Singh, who's working against sex selection for the last two decades, says, "When a woman gets pregnant, anxieties set in about the sex of the unborn child. Foeticide often follows when tests, that are illegal but easy to get, show it is a girl."
The ills of a skewed sex ratio have registered their presence in the Indian society. "Cases of violence on resisting rape or molestation and the rising number of crimes against women are more than just plain indicators," says Madhu Garg, a social activist with All India Democratic Women's Association.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Plan India's executive director, says, "Such scary facts motivate us to celebrate the birth of a girl as the world's 7 billionth baby."
Shachi Singh, a social activist, says, "The situation is going to be scary in the days to come. People must understand that worshipping women as a deity is not enough to lead a happy life, they must overcome the preference for male child."