Despite the government’s best efforts, which appear to be quite inadequate, India’s child sex ratio is becoming more imbalanced, with fewer female children for every 1000 males than ever before. The desire for a male child among Indian parents is leading to sex-selective abortion and murder of female babies, according to Maneka Gandhi, the Minister for Women and Child Development.
According to the 2011 census, for the population under 1 year of age, there were 910 female babies for every 1000 males. For the population under six, the ratio was 918 girls to every 1,000 boys in 2011, versus 962 in 1981. Even though the overall population sex ratio has gotten closer to parity, the child sex ratio has moved in the other direction for the past five decades. For a state-by-state look at the imbalance, see here.
The Huffington Post <a href="http://reports that according to the British medical journal The Lancet, up to 12 million females were aborted in India over the last 30 years, or about 1000 per day. The article does not mention how many males are also aborted, by comparison.
According to Gandhi, far more females are being aborted or killed. “You have 2,000 girls who are killed in the womb every day. Some are born and have pillows on their faces choking them,” quotes the Huffington Post. Steps need to be taken to change the perspective of Indian parents, who believe, in general, that male children are preferable because they can earn income as opposed to females who will be a financial strain on the family.
According to Gandhi, the government’s “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter) campaign, launched in January 2015, has been effective in this cause. The campaign is being run in 100 districts where the ratio of girls to boys is particularly low and aims to tighten enforcement of the law forbidding gender selective abortions.
Gandhi said, “We didn’t expect results to show for at least a year or two years, if at all, as it’s one of those mindset change things. The result is that hundreds of girl children are being thrown into orphanages in these 100 districts. In Amritsar, they have received 89 girls this month. In Tamil Nadu, they said the same thing. In all the districts we have chosen, they have a lot of girls going into palnas (state orphanages).”
Although that doesn’t sound particularly heartwarming, and it means that female children are still being rejected by their parents, it is at least a small comfort that they are not being killed or aborted just because of their gender. Whether the numbers that she mentions add up to a significant change is also questionable. Finally, given the dismal rate of adoptions in India, one wonders what will become of these girls as they age, will they get a proper education, find a mate, and lead adult lives similar to other women?
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