India – Alarm over sex ratio failing to improve

NEW DELHI: There is cause for concern as Delhi’s sex ratio remains low with the civil registration data putting it down at 896 females per 1000 males in 2014. This is just one point up from the 2013 sex ratio status. The data only underlines the urgency required for the Delhi government to focus deeply on implementation of the provisions of Pre Conception Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act to prevent illegal sex determination and female foeticide.

The data was released as part of the annual report on registration of births and deaths in Delhi in 2014 by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday. A crackdown on clinics illegally carrying out sex determination and executing abortions is the need of the hour, say experts working on gender and women rights.

The sex ratio was merely 809:1000 in 2001 and showed a gradual rise to 848:1000 in 2007. There was a dramatic improvement in 2008 at 1004 females per 1000 males. This was attributed to the implementation of the Ladli scheme for girls that year. The sex ratio, however, again saw a decline but was still high at 915:1000 in 2009. But the decline continued next year when it touched 901:1000 and then went further down to 893:1000 in 2011 and 886:1000 in 2012. In 2013 there was some improvement with the ratio up nine points at 895:1000. In 2014 it moved up only by one point.

The national conference of chief registrars (births & deaths) held in 2003 had unanimously recommended monitoring of the sex ratio on a regular basis at the state and union territory levels, taking into account the alarming decline. Complying with that mandate, Delhi has been doing monthly monitoring of sex ratio of institutional births since 2004.

The data is collected on a monthly basis from 50 major hospitals which accounts for 51.97% of the total registered births in 2014 in Delhi. This helps to review the sex ratio at the highest level in the shortest possible time without waiting for yearly indicators. The sex ratio on the basis of institutional births on the basis of these hospitals comes out to 894:1000 for 2014.

The universal sex ratio of Delhi as per census for all age-groups taken together was 821 females per 1000 males in 2001. It was 866 females per 1000 males as per provisional census data in 2011. The child sex ratio data reflected a decline with the census figures showing the sex ratio in the 0-6 age-group at 868 females per 1000 males in 2001, and this dipping to 866:1000 in the 2011 census. “In both categories, Delhi’s sex ratio was below the all-India average of 940 females per 1000 males and 914 females per 1000 males (0-6 years) in 2011.

The data had triggered worry and the Government of India and government of Delhi, then led by Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit, had come forward to express concern and take measures to enhance the sex ratio. However, not much has changed since then. At that time, maximum concern was raised over the sex ratio in southwest district where it was the lowest at 836:1000. Worse still, this was lower than what it was in 2001 when the district recorded 846 females to 1000 males. In 2001 too, the district recorded the lowest sex ratio.


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