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Consequences of declining sex ratio
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma5/19/2017 12:02:55 AM
In predominantly male- dominated society, the birth of a girl is still frowned upon. Though girl is considered as 'Lakshmi' in many homes, she is actually treated as a liability in a materialistic society. Society is blamed for it. It has been observed that some districts of the country are notorious for female infanticide and the parents living under the shadow of looming dowry, like to kill the female baby.
The middle class, the upper middle class and rich like to get rid of girls by using some more scientific methods. One such method is amniocentesis performed by a machine with the help of which a liquid is inserted into the womb with the help of a needle. The liquid produces foam which helps to find out the sex of a child. In Tamil Nadu, the government has sanctioned Rs.50 lakhs to create the awareness among the people against this evil. A cradle-baby scheme was introduced by the Jayalalitha Government in 1992, but the critics say that the scheme only legitimised the abandoning of the girl child. Both female infanticide and foeticide have led to a declining sex ratio in our country showing an unacceptable trend that the female species has no right to be born and no right to survive. Abandoning girls only perpetuated the ingrained discrimination against girls. Has the so called modern society of ours a right to meddle in the process of God's creation?
The Census of 2011 revealed that the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group is worst now than in any decade since independence. The child sex ratio in 2011 has registered an all-time low figure of 914 girls per 1000 boys. This decline is more for rural areas from 934 in 2001 to 919 in 2011, and for urban areas it is 906 in 2001 and 902 in 2011. Sex ratio is an important demographic indicator reflecting the socioeconomic structure of any nation. In present era with the avert of modern technology, the practice of female infanticide has been replaced by genocide of millions of women known as female foeticide-denying the girl her very right to take birth. The uses of ultrasounds and amniocentesis for sex determination followed by sex selective induced abortions have created a situation of daughter drought with tragic consequences. The sociological research has proved that declining female sex ratio in any society is associated with social distress, increased incidences of violence, anxiety and in extreme cases ultimate social degeneration. This very issue is very serious in our country and need an immediate action.
A look at the census on state wise basis reveals that the states of Haryana and Punjab, which are famous for the female foeticide and female infanticide, are the worst performers in this category, with the former recording 830 females and latter recording 846 females per thousand males. This is more disturbing by knowing the fact that both these states are considered as the most prosperous states of the country. It has been observed that education and affluence seems to have positive correlation with a decline in the sex ratio. The decline has been observed more in case of educated women than the uneducated women. Such studies indicate the son preference not only in Punjab and Haryana but across the country. In the patriarchal societies especially in North India son is considered as the joy factor while two are seen as the lifetime celebration. The traditional thinking being that if one dies, at least the other will take care of parents. The girl is considered as an economic burden. That is why some parents go for sex detection which enables to know the sex of the foetus and abort if it is girl child. The data of Punjab and Haryana states indicate that female foeticide and infanticides is not merely a phenomenon which is associated with poverty and economic burden. Rather it is found more in case of rich families. A son is believed to be controlling the land and hence is preferred in the families. A son is still considered as the main actor in matters of inheritance of ancestral property and daughters keep on maintaining peripheral roles. We need to pass a law against the misuse of Pre-diagnostic techniques but such laws are seldom implemented with the spirit that is absolutely essential to eliminate this great social evil. The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act came in 1994.The Act whose rules were framed in 1996 and came into force on January 1, 1996, regulates pre-natal diagnostic techniques and covers the use of ultrasound machines. We have Anti-dowry Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act, laws punishing rapists but very few among the offenders are nabbed. They find many loopholes through which they find a safe exit.The disturbing trend has already started influencing the institution of marriage in the society. The current sex ratio in Punjab indicates that there are only four women available for every five men. Now the men from Punjab and Haryana are marrying women from outside states. Such marriages represent undocumented type that cannot be explained adequately within the framework of categories available for understanding marriage and non-marriage transactions involving women i.e. sexual trafficking, bride price marriage and buying of women for marriage. Men, who are unable for marriage, buy women from poor families. These marriages are further differentiated from trafficking as the girl is not passed to the others. The persistence and spread of poor sex ratio in Punjab and Harayana states will keep up the demand for brides from elsewhere. Local and national media have been highlighting the increasing incidents of sale of girl to the affluent but female deficient states of Punjab and Harayana. The focus of these kinds of reports conceals the actual nature and range of marital and other transactions resulting from poor sex ratio.
How we can tackle this menace that is declining the sex ratio? Law is the only solution but change of mindset of the people is more important that perpetuates the prejudice against girls and women. A multipronged strategy is needed to remove the prejudices against the girl child. The states need to engage seriously to fight this problem. Review in the states should begin with the review of the quarterly reports. All states are not filling such reports regularly. We should think on the long-term consequences if the girl children are denied to born. Those who still have the notion that boy is an asset and girl is liability need to change their mindset. The doctors who are doing this dirty job need to get the punishment. The certain schemes like Ladali and Dhanlakshmi announced in Delhi should be adopted in other states also so that the girl child can be protected. However, while enforcement based and incentive based measures may have salutary effect, the more challenging task is to make India, less- male dominated society. The Parliament and the state legislatures must lead from the front and support the women reservation. Liberal scholarships for all level of education may contribute substantially in making the life easier for the girls.
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