Maharashtra’s sex ratio at birth falls to 899


| TNN |

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The report notes that the sex ratio at birth in Pune district showed a promising upward trend till 2014
  • However, it went down to 891 in 2015 and fell sharply by 53 points to 838 in 2016
  • Pune and Osmanabad registered the second-highest decline at 53 points

Representative image.Representative image.

PUNE: Maharashtra’s sex ratio at birth dipped by eight points in 2016 as compared to the previous year, according to a report from the state health department. The report says the ratio of newborn girls per 1,000 boys went down from 907 in 2015 to 899 in 2016.

The report, which is based on the Civil Registration System under the Birth and Death Registration Act, notes that the sex ratio at birth in Pune district showed a promising upward trend till 2014. However, it went down to 891 in 2015 and fell sharply by 53 points to 838 in 2016. In fact, among the districts in Maharashtra, Pune and Osmanabad registered the second-highest decline in the sex ratio at 53 points. The worst decline was in Washim district (62 points).

Ideally, 951 girls should be born for every 1,000 boys. “If the number of girls born is less than 920, we can safely assume there is discrimination against the girl child,” said Dr P Arokiasamy of the Deonar-based International Institute for Population Sciences. Considering that 936 girls were born for every 1,000 boys in Mumbai, the city’s sex ratio at birth, though not ideal, is far from a crisis situation. Incidentally, the corresponding statistic for Mumbai in 2015 was 926, down from 931 in 2014. Even health officials say that Mumbai has more or less been steady as far as sex ratio is considered.

Regarding the significant drop in sex ratio in Maharashtra, Dr Arokiasamy said that birth registrations are 100% only in cities like Mumbai and Pune. “Urban areas would have 100% registrations, but not so in rural areas. Either the child’s birth isn’t recorded or the child isn’t born in an institution, resulting in incomplete records,” he said, adding in some areas in India register barely 80-85% of the births.

On the other hand, Bhandara registered a significant rise of 78 points in the ratio followed by Parbhani and Latur. Beed district, which ranked lowest in the state in 2011 for its skewed child sex ratio, continued to show an upward trend.

Experts say the report clearly indicates that the preference for a male child is still predominant in our society and that sex-selective abortions are still prevalent. “The report indicates a worrisome trend. It shows a decline in the sex ratio at birth in 21 districts in the state. The report signifies that people’s mindset has not changed much and the preference for a male child continues,” Archana Patil, additional director, state family welfare bureau, told TOI.

Patil also underlined that easy access to medical technology, including sonography, was one of the reasons for the decline in the sex ratio at birth. “The law needs to be stringently enforced. However, legal intervention alone is not enough to eliminate the deeply ingrained mindset. Public participation is the key to arrest the decline,” she felt.

Social activist Sudha Kankaria said, “Prevailing customs like dowry and the excessively glorified notion of the male child’s role in many rituals, including cremation, continues to have a lot of bearing on the psyche of society. That needs to be changed through awareness and sensitisation programmes.”

Gynaecologist Pankaj Sarode, president of the Pune Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society, said, “Since these are figures of sex ratio at birth, they definitely indicate sex selection. The female sex is stronger in terms of survival and we should actually expect the ratio to be tilted in favour of girls. If not more, then at least the same number as males. What the survey reflects is alarming.”

Sarode also drew attention to the inadequate implementation of the law. “The PCPNDT (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act needs to be reviewed and amended. It focuses more on scrutiny of legally registered sonography and abortion centres than nabbing actual culprits.”

While the child sex ratio is principally determined by the sex ratio at birth, it is also influenced by a number of other factors such as under-registration of girls, differential infant and child mortality and age misreporting.

Therefore, imbalance in child sex ratio cannot be entirely attributed to the practice of pre-natal sex selection. The sex ratio at birth defined as the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys is a more accurate and refined indicator of the extent of pre-natal sex selection, states the report, ‘Girls Missing At Birth in India’ (2001-08), published by the United Nations Population Fund-India (UNFPA).http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/maharashtras-sex-ratio-at-birth-falls-to-899/articleshow/58187946.cms

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