Sikkim’s unwanted girls


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A few weeks ago I came across a YouTube video in which a Chinese expert said that more men meant more growth for China. I was wondering if the same logic would apply to the increase in crime rates in different parts of the world.

India’s 2011 census shows a serious decline in the number of girls aged 0-6 years. The decline means that at least eight million female foetuses may have been aborted in the past decade, courtesy sex determination tests.

In 1974, All India Institute of Medical Sciences came out with a study which said sex-determination tests could be a boon for Indian women. It said they no longer needed to produce endless children to have the right number of sons. Determination of sex and elimination of female foetuses as an effective tool of population control was promoted.

India_census

It didn’t take long for the government to realise that it had backfired. In 1994, the Pre-Natal Determination Test (PNDT) Act outlawed sex-selective abortion. In 2004, it was amended to include gender selection even at the pre-conception stage.

Despite all of this, today, there are 40,000 registered ultrasound clinics in the country, and many more exist without any record.

The Dilemma

The major reason why a girl child is not preferred is supposedly dowry. India outlawed dowries in 1961, but the practice remains rampant. The value of dowries is constantly growing, affecting rich and poor alike. Depending upon a bridegroom’s job and background it can vary anywhere between Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1 crore. It can be worse.

The difficulty of ‘securing’ a girl is another difficulty in a society where crime rate is constantly going up. What people fail to understand is that the problem has become acute due to constant decline in the number of girls.

Most states in the south and north-east have been kind to their girls, and their sex ratios are above the national average. In the matrilineal societies of Kerala and Karnataka in the south and Meghalaya in the north-east, women have enjoyed high status and commanded respect. But the latest census figures show a minor decline in the number of girls has begun in these three states as well.

The most distressing factor is the steep decline in the number of girls under seven in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and in Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura in the north-east. Though these states have much higher sex ratio than the national average, the decline is too substantial to ignore.

Manipur’s sex ratio has dropped from 957 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001 to 934 in 2011, with 23 missing girl children per 1,000 boys in the decade.

Nagaland is down by 20 girls per 1,000 boys, from 964 in 2001 to 944 in 2011; Sikkim has 19 less girls per 1,000, from 963 to 944. Tripura has fallen by 13 girls per 1,000 boys, from 966 to 953.

india_girls

That’s even worrying in case of Sikkim when we consider that the decline is constant. In 2001 it was 974. Today it’s 953.

In 1961, for every 1,000 boys under the age of seven, there were 976 girls. Today, the figure has dropped to a dismal 914 girls.

Although the number of women overall is improving (due to factors such as life expectancy), India’s ratio of young girls to boys is one of the worst in the world after China.

Probably Sikkim and northeastern states in particular and Indians in general needs to learn from the western countries which had much better sex ration throughout the industrial revolution including today.

With inputs from the BBC

 

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