Tamil Nadu – Declining sex ratio at birth reveals a worrisome trend

MADURAI: Yet another Women’s Day is being celebrated across the world on Sunday and although there is increased awareness on women’s rights, things on the sex ratio at birth (SRB) front are not really on the positive side in most parts of Tamil Nadu. According to a data obtained from the office of the registrar general, ministry of home affairs, vital statistics division, Tamil Nadu’s SRB is 905 girls as against 1000 boys.

“As per the civil registration system, the sex ratio at birth in Tamil Nadu in 2011 was only 905. Birth registration data is reliable to infer the intensity of gender biased sex elimination, as the state claims that 99.6% of the births are being registered in Tamil Nadu. Thus, in 2011 alone, there is a deficit of 28,458 girls, eliminated by unethical doctors,” says P Phavalam of Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA), a non-governmental organization.

Though the state government has shown marginal increase in child sex ratio from 942 to 946 girls against 1,000 boys in 2001, 2011 census data; the sex ratio at birth steadily declines pointing out that many girl foetuses are aborted. “It is no more female infanticide but female foeticide because many parents who indulged in infanticide faced punishment, but not many scan centres or clinics which were part of sex identification and aided in abortions of girl babies managed to escape,” she pointed out.

Fittingly, 30-year-old Rani (name changed) from Usilampatti is expecting her third child, a boy in few more days. After two girl children, the conservative family desperately wanted a male heir and Rani had to undergo three abortions earlier when they identified them as female foetuses with help of a scan centre – which the family does not want to reveal for obvious reasons. “I had to abort three of my pregnancies when they were found to be female foetuses. Now it is a boy and my family is happy,” she said.

The craze for a male heir does not spare even childless couple opting for artificial reproduction technology (ART). “It is a mindset of our society craving for male babies and there will not be much change until there is change in our socio-cultural elements. Even in normal pregnancy we see many couples get pregnant third or fourth time just because they want a male baby,” said a leading ART specialist in the city.

Childless couples after many years of social ridicule don’t mind about the gender of a child. “But the couples who come for a second baby through ART especially the ones with girl child as first born will ask for male babies,” said another ART specialist.


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