Sunday, March 13, 2011

Decreasing sex ratio in country

Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Women and Child Development in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on March 3 shared sex-ratio (females/ males) in the Country and State-wise, as per Census 1981, 1991 and 2001indicate that sex ratio has declined from 934 (as per 1981 census) to 927 ( as per 1991 census) and has increased to 933 (as per 2001 census). The reasons for high number of incidence of female foeticide in India include a deep rooted traditional son preference, continued practice of dowry and concern for safety of the girl child and exploitation and abuse of women and girl children. In order to curb female foeticide and improve the sex ratio, Government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy which includes legislative measures, advocacy, awareness generation and programmes for socio-economic empowerment of women.

Under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, sex selective abortions are made punishable. The Government in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is responsible for administration of this Act and its implementation is the responsibility of the State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations. Further, foeticide is also punishable under Section 315 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both. Legislations such as Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 seek to penalise the perpetrators of these social evils.

As a part of the measures taken to change the mind set of society, Government of India has been implementing on a pilot basis ‘Dhanalakshmi’, scheme for incentivising birth of the Girl Child. A number of States have been implementing their own schemes to incentivise the birth of a girl child and encourage families to place a premium on her education and development through Conditional Cash Transfer schemes.

Socio-economic empowerment of women is essential for making informed decisions and for change of the mind sets. The Government of India has undertaken a number of initiatives for this, such as Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP), The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGNREGA), National Rural Livelihood Mission(NRLM) and loans through the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. This should go a long way in empowering women and enable them to take decisions about the birth of children, their spacing, retain girl children and improve the nutritional and educational status.

To create national awareness on issues relating to girl child, in 2009, Ministry of Women and Child Development has declared January 24 as the National Girl Child Day. On this day, besides the Central Government, the State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations undertake advocacy measures to improve the status of girl child in their respective States/ Union Territories.

Meghalaya sex ratio favourable to women

Meghalaya sex ratio favours women and the number of women per thousand men in the state is higher than the national average. Meghalaya has a higher sex ratio of 972 women to 1000 men, which is greater than the national average of 933 women to 1000 men though it is lower than Kerala where 1058 women outnumber every count of 1000 men.

This was shared by Chairperson of the Meghalaya State Women Commission, Susanna K Marakfact at a recently held workshop on Rights of Girl Child and Future Implications of Imbalanced Sex Ratio. Meghalaya, indigenous communities follow a matrilineal system where equal rights are accorded to men, women and children. However worrying trend is that incidents of rape and various forms of abuses against girls have started increasing in the state.

Gender imbalance in China

In January 2010 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) showed what can happen to a country when girl babies don’t count. Within ten years, the academy said, one in five young men would be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women—a figure unprecedented in a country at peace.

The number is based on the sexual discrepancy among people aged 19 and below. According to CASS, China in 2020 will have 30m-40m more men of this age than young women. For comparison, there are 23m boys below the age of 20 in Germany, France and Britain combined and around 40m American boys and young men. So within ten years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America, or almost twice that of Europe’s three largest countries, with little prospect of marriage, untethered to a home of their own and without the stake in society that marriage and children provide. The country's sex ratio of newborns stood at 119.45 boys to 100 girls in 2009, according to the latest figure announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in February. Experts have suggested more effective action against illegal pregnancy gender scans and discrimination of women so as to curb the sex ratio imbalance in China.

913 to 908 over decade: sex ratio dips in Maharashtra

Swatee Kher of Indian Express reports from Mumbai.
Maharashtra might claim to be among the most progressive states in the country, but the girl child continues to remain under threat. The latest figures available with the state government indicate that the sex ratio is 908 per 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age group, a drop from the 2001 census figure of 913 girls per 1,000 boys. The sex ratio is measured by the number of births of a girl per thousand boys in each district.

The recent figures are based on the enumeration done at anganwadi centres, where lactating mothers and children under six are provided nutrition and care. Of the 33 districts accounted for till June 2009, there are 14 districts having a sex ratio below 900 girls per 1,000 boys. Beed is the lowest with a ratio of only 848 girls per 1,000 boys. The figures in Beed have dropped from 894 to 848, in Jalgaon from 880 to 854, Aurangabad from 890 to 888 and Buldhana from 908 to 867.

Except Pune, where the figure has dropped from 902 girls to 895 girls per 1,000 boys, regions of Satara, Kolhapur and Sangli have reported an increase in sex ratio. Though the compilation does not include Mumbai figures, the data with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in 2008 had revealed an estimated average ratio for 2005 of 90girls per 1,000 boys.

“Maharashtra is doing better than states like Punjab; we are ranked fifth in the country. However, the recent figures are good indicators and they are a cause of worry. That is the reason we are focusing on the five districts for awareness campaign,” said Minister for Public Health Suresh Shetty. The government will launch an intensive awareness campaign in Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Beed and Jalgaon.
The Economic Survey 2009-’10 had also expressed concern over the decline in sex ratio. “The projected sex ratio is likely to decline from the actual 922 during 2001 to 919 during 2006 and 915 during 2011, which is a matter of concern... The proportion of males is expected to increase slightly, that is 52.1 per cent during 2011 as compared to 52 per cent during 2001.” The population of the state may reach 11.27 crore during 2011.

Himachal Sex Ratio Improved : Chief Minister

As per the State’s latest evaluation Sex ratio in Himachal Pradesh has improved from 904 for 1000 males in 2008 to 922. This was said by Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal at event organized to mark government's 'Beti Hai Anmol' programme. 'Beti Hai Anmol' is a State programme under which Rs 5,100 is deposited in the account of two baby girls from Below the poverty line families. In addition to making education free in the state, BPL girl children were also being given scholarships ranging from Rs 300 in class I to Rs 1,500 at plus two level, added the Chief Minister at the event. Seeking public support for checking female feticide, he said, "Anyone giving information on femicide or prenatal sex determination would be suitable rewarded and their identity would be kept secret'.