No Girls Among 216 Babies Recently Born in Uttarakhand District
Of the 216 children born in the past three months in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand, not a single one was a girl, reports the Times of India (TOI). This imbalance suggests sex-selective abortions or female feticide, authorities say.
District magistrate Ashish Chauhan told TOI, “…the situation is suspicious and has highlighted female feticide.” He added, “We will monitor the data and activities of all these villages for [the] next six months and will take strict action against ASHA workers if the situation does not improve. Moreover, we will also take legal action against the family who will be found guilty.”
Various government-run campaigns to improve the sex ratio at birth — i.e., the number of female babies born per 1,000 males — have been ongoing in the district since the 2011 census found a population imbalance of roughly 958 females per 1,000 males, TOI reported. This wasn’t the case 100 years ago, The Wire states. In 1901, Uttarkashi was home to 1,015 women per 1,000 men.
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Not just Uttarkashi, but the overall sex ratio in India seems to be dropping. While in 2014-2016, the figure stood at 898 females per 1,000 males, in 2015-2017, it fell to 896 females per 1,000 males, reports the Economic Times.
Much of this gap can be attributed to sex-selective abortions where female fetuses are killed due to the perception that they are an “unaffordable economic burden,” given the prevalence of the dowry system in India.
According to the Population Research Institute, reports Down To Earth, between 2000 and 2014, on an average, at least 2,332 sex-selective abortions took place every day despite laws that prohibit sex selection or disclosure of the sex of the fetus. The Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, also prohibits the sale of “any ultrasound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting the sex of fetus” to persons, laboratories, and clinics not registered under the Act.
While the Government’s female infanticide and foeticide prevention scheme — Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao — claims to have improved India’s sex ratio at birth, the new findings in Uttarkashi have public figures questioning how much progress has really been made. “Shocking sex ratio data has come up in the district,” senior journalist Shiv Singh Thanval commented. “It raises a question on the Centre’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme. The numbers clearly show that female feticide is taking place. The administration needs to take strict actions to put an end to this.”