Not a single ultrasound centre in Shirur taluka, Beed, Maharashtra

, TNN | Jun 8, 2012, 06.06AM IST


The  Shirur taluka in Beed, which has been at the bottom of the sex ratio chart in the state for years, does not have a single USG centre.

In Shirur, for every 1,000 boys born, there are 768 girls. The trend, says Beed collector Sadanand Koche, has been consistent for years. “The reasons behind Shirur faring the worst in child sex ratio are many and complicated,” he said.

Merely 40 km from Beed town, Shirur has 60 villages, mainly populated by nomadic tribes. But while Beed has over 100 hospitals with 75 gynaecologists practicing there, Shirur has only two MBBS doctors and almost all the smaller medical centres are run by ayurveda and homoeopathy degree-holders. Yet, the two places have one thing in common: the words, ‘abortion’ and ‘sex determination’, are taboo.

Though the Shirur authorities refuse to acknowledge that the number of girl child born there is abysmal, official figures bare it all. The primary health centre carries out up to 30 deliveries a month; in May, out of the 28 babies born, 15 were boys. The figure is worse for April, when out of 24 babies born, six were girls.

A look at the records of Shirur’s biggest school, Kalikadevi Medium and High School, shows that out of 739 students in Classes V to X, only 304 are girls. The sex ratio becomes even more skewed in college.

A right balance has to be struck between a woman’s right to privacy and the need to curb misuse of sonography tests — Prithviraj Chavan | CHIEF MINISTER

According to statistical assistant with the Integrated Child Development Scheme Shubhangi Rayate, many mothers themselves are not keen on daughters. “But it is difficult to maintain records of all the parents and babies as couples here migrate to other parts for six months for sugarcane cutting,” she said. “We can’t keep a tab on them outside the taluka and don’t know if they get a sex-determination done there.” Every year, about 5 lakh people from Beed migrate outside to work.

Koche added with many in the sugarcane industry offering jobs to boys with a wife only, villagers want sons. “Contractor picks up couples as single units. Parents prefer boys as they get ‘extra workforce’ in the form of a daughterin-law,” he said. A couple gets paid up to Rs 2 lakh.

Dowry is another major reason behind Shirur residents preferring a boy to a girl. Here, even a poor sugarcane cutter has to pay Rs 2-5 lakh as dowry. Dr Sudhakar Khedkar, who has been in Shirur for 12 years, said owing to this reason, people from all strata—the poorest to the richest—tended to abort fem-ale foetuses once they found out the child’s sex from private USG centres outside Shirur. But schemes like Ajit Balika Yojana, were bringing hope, he said. Under it, after a girl is born, an FD of Rs 5,000 is deposited in her bank account and the amount can be withdrawn only after 18 years.

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