Over the last decade, the female-to-male child sex ratio (CSR) in rural India has dropped alarmingly.
As reported today in an article in TOI, the 2011 census data shows that:
In the 2011 census, urban CSR is still much worse (902) than rural CSR (919), but over the last decade (2001 – 2011) the fall in rural CSR (15 points) is around four times than that in urban CSR (4 points).
- Haryana has both the worst urban and rural CSR
- Nagaland has the best urban CSR
- Andaman & Nicobar has the best rural CSR
A qualitative study by a team from the Univ of California, San Francisco, published last month in the journal of Social Science and Medicine describes the narratives of immigrant women from India in the US who underwent sex-determination tests and subsequent sex-selective abortion.
65 immigrant women from India living in the US and with a history of sex selection participated in the study. Of the 65 women selected for the study, 51 were not aware of the sex of their fetus at the start of the study. The other 14 knew beforehand that they were carrying male fetus (in fact, these 14 had chosen methods to ensure a male fetus). During the study, the other 51 unaware-participants used ultra-sound to determine sex of their fetus. Of these 51 women, 24 women learned that they were carrying a male fetus and chose to continue with their pregnancy. Of the rest 27 women who found out that they were carrying a female fetus, 24 aborted their pregnancy and only 3 women carried their pregnancy to deliver a female child.
[The women who participated in the study came from various religious and educational backgrounds. They had an average of 2 living children; 62 of 65 women had only female children. All 65 participants sought a male child.]
Puri, S; Adams, V; Ivery, S; Nachtigal, R.D. . “There is such a thing as too many daughters, but not too many sons”: A qualitative study of son preference and fetal sex selection among Indian immigrants in the United States. Social Science and Medicine. 72(7): 1169-1176
(* The sex-ratio is represented as the number ‘x’ where x stands for x females per 1000 males)
Census 2011 report is out and so is the analysis. Provisional data released by the census office for 2011 reveals that:
“(In India) … the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group has been continually declining since 1961 but the fall from 927.31 in 2001 to 914.23 in 2011 is the worst since Independence.” [The Hindu] This indicates an increasing preference to have a male child over a female child.
“The overall sex ratio across all ages has increased by 7-points from 933 in 2001 to 940 in 2011, indicating that a girl child’s chance at life greatly improves once she crosses the age of 6. This is in line with a general improvement in the overall sex ratio over the last twenty years and is the highest since 1971.” [TOI]
“In line with the national trend, in Punjab too the overall sex ratio has climbed from 876 in 2001 to 893 in 2011, but the sex ratio in the 0-6 group stands at 846 (which is still an increase from 798 in 2001).” [TOI] “Punjab is the most improved state with a 48-point increase over 2001 …”
Of all the states, Haryana now has the lowest sex ratio (830) in the 0 – 6 age group whereas Mizoram (971) and Meghalaya (970) are the highest.
Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have recorded an increasing trend in the child sex ratio (0-6 years). In all the remaining 27 states and union territories, the child sex ratio shows decline over 2001 census.
A reader forwarded the link to the following rap song on youtube. (Thank you CherylM). Performed by the band Saint Soldier, it is a powerful song. Check it out and join the discussion on their Facebook page.
Below are the official lyrics of the song which are posted on the Facebook.
Rab karkay banay na kadhey maa, Tu Rab karkay banay na kadhey maa,
Rab karkay banay na kadhey maa, Tu Rab karkay banay na kadhey maa;
It takes brawn to pull a trigger, brains to know when,
My weapon of choice, I take aim with a pen;
These words my ammunition, a soldier on the battle field,
I take a shot through your speaker tell me how’d it feel?
Callin all soldiers, forget what they told us,
Our generations older, parents cant hold us back;
>From spittin truth, are they forgettin the proof?
Are they forgettin that we the unstoppable youth?
Call it rebellion, let ‘em say i’m a hellion,
They killin baby girls at birth what can i tell ya;
I gotta step in, I gotta go n shake you,
My words are my weapon, let the weight of’em break you;
Feel the pain that I feel when I hear that,
They bury baby girls alive, suck a tear back;
Another study in Punjab surveying the attitudes of young couples regarding girl-child is in the news. The study was conducted by Dr. Harshinder Kaur, (who many will recognize for her drive against female-feticide in Punjab, her book made into a movie, her talks across the globe and at the UN on this topic, and her struggles with the administration in her native state of Punjab, and who is now serving as the deputy medical superintendent of Rajinder Hospital in Patiala. Ah well … before this post becomes a post on Dr. Harshinder Kaur - I will dedicate one to her soon – let me get back to the study).
The study interviewed 3000 couples across different villages in Punjab. Here are some highlights of the results of the study as reported in the Times of India:
- 37% of the couples said they only wanted a male child and if they had one they would not want to have a second child.
- 11% said they would have a second child if they had a daughter as their first child, but would not go for a second child if they have a son as their first child.
- 2% categorically stated that they wanted only a male child “at any cost”.
- The percentage of couples happy with having only a female child is only 3%.
As per the article, “another interesting fact, which came to light, is that the rich were more interested in having only a son compared to the poor. Many rich couples openly said they didn’t want a female child, while among the poor, only one couple said no to a female child even as the remaining 70 couples said they accepted the girl child as a gift of god.”
Comparing the results of this study with the one she had conducted in 2008, and also with several studies others have conducted over the past decades, the one thing that can be sadly concluded is that the attitudes towards the girl child have not changed.
People visiting Punjab after a long time often carry with them the image of how much things have changed over time. However, some things, the more they change, the more they remain the same.
- on the issue of female feticide
- conducted by Niharika Joshi under the guidance of Dr. Ashu Kalaraman
- at the Punjab Agricultural University
- based on a survey conducted across 6 villages in Ludhiana
- having a sample of 200 participants, Jat-Sikh mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law
had the following to report:
Of the mothers-in-law surveyed,
- 78% accepted female foeticide as a social evil but said that it would not cause gender imbalance in the society. They also said it was better for women not to be born than to lead a life of sorrow and misery.
- 12% said that it was okay to practice female feticide
- 10% were against the practice
Of the daughters-in-law surveyed,
- 77% disapproved of female feticide (Only those daughters-in-law were surveyed who already had a girl child and wanted to have another child)