#India – Child sex ratio worsening faster among STs: census report


Author(s): Jitendra
Date:Nov 4, 2013, Down to Earth

Data also shows higher marginationalisation of the country’s Scheduled Tribes

Life on the margins (Photo by M Suchitra)Life on the margins (Photo by M Suchitra)

The latest data released by the Census of India shows that the child sex ratio (number of girls per 1,000 boys) among Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the country has declined faster than in other categories of the population between 2001 and 2011. But the number of girls born per 1,000 boys is still higher in the ST category than in the general population. The data also shows higher marginalisation of India’s Scheduled Tribes; the rate at which people are giving up cultivation is also higher in this category. But more number of Scheduled Tribe women participate in the work force than women in any other category of the population.

The census report data, released on October 28, shows a declining trend in child sex ratio across all categories. The national average has dipped to 919 in 2011 from 927 in 2001. The decline in child sex ratio of STs is higher—it has declined from 973 to 957, but the child gender ratio among STs is still better than the national average. The child sex ratio of STs is the best in Chhattisgarh at 993 and Odisha at 980.

The population growth rate of STs is more than the average population growth of the country, reveals the Primary Census Abstract SC & ST report of Census of India 2011. The growth rate of general population of country is 17.7 per cent whereas STs are growing at 23.7 per cent. Even in urban areas, the growth rate of ST population is more—the growth rate of STs is 49.7 per cent whereas the general population grew by 31.7 per cent.

The data shows another trend. The proportion of child population (0-6 years) of STs has been decreasing. The proportion of child population is overall 13.6 of total population. But the schedule caste child population and tribal child population is decreasing at faster rate in comparison to general child population.

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Overall sex ratio better

The census data shows overall improvement in sex ratio (adults and children combined) in all categories, including that of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes between 2001 and 2011. This improvement is more visible in urban areas. The sex ratio among STs is better than that of all categories. The ST sex ratio has improved to 990 from 978 per 1,000 males, whereas the national average has increased to 943 from 933. The census data shows ST sex ratio has increased to 980 from 944 in urban areas. On the other hand, sex ratio of general population in urban areas improved to 929 from 900. The national sex ratio of rural population is improving slowly in comparison to rural population of STs.

Odisha and Jharkhand, two of India’s poorest states with sizeable tribal population, are the best performing states when it comes to improved sex ratio of STs when compared to states like Rajasthan (948), Uttar Pradesh (952), Jammu and Kashmir (924) and Bihar (958), which also have tribal people. Goa tops the list when it comes to sex ratio of tribal population with 1,046 females per 1,000 males; it is followed by Kerala (1,035), Arunachal Pardesh (1,032), Odisha (1,029) and Chhattisgarh (1,020).

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There is minuscule increase in work participation rate (WPR) of Scheduled Tribes in the country. The rate of WPR is high in urban areas. Work participation rate of SCs and STs in rural areas is declining but increasing urban areas, the census report states.

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Work participation of ST women is the highest in the country and the participation of men is even better. Work participation rate of ST women is 43.5, whereas national average (for general population) is 25.5. Though the overall work participation rate decreased from 25.6 to 25.5, it is increased in urban areas.

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Fewer work days

The census data clearly reflects increasing marginalisation of workers. There is declining trend in percentage of “main workers” (those who are engaged in any economically productive activity for 183 days/six months or more during the year) and increasing trend of “marginal workers” (those who work less than 183 days/six months a year). But the rate of decline of “main workers” belonging to ST category is faster in comparison to the national average. This trend is there in rural areas as well.

STs are the most marginalised group in the country. The growth rate of marginal workers almost doubled in comparison to the national rate. Among STs, rate of marginalisation is greater in rural areas in comparison to urban areas.

As per data, the number as well as the percentage of cultivators is declining. The percentage of decline again is more among STs but they still constitute the highest percentage of cultivators. In rural areas, the decline in number of cultivators is more than 10 per cent whereas the national average is about seven per cent.

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As per data, there is increasing trend of people becoming agricultural labourers. Though Scheduled Castes, who by tradition constitute highest percentage of agricultural labourers seems to remain stagnant, but they still contitute highest percentage among all categories, followed by STs. The percentage increase of agricultural labourers is higher for ST population. Their rate increased by around eight per cent, whereas national average of growth in agricultural labour was four per cent. In rural areas, SC sconstitute highest number of agricultural labourers. But the rate of increase is highest among STs.

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The number of household industry (HHI) workers is increasing but their percentage is decreasing, says census data. The decline is across all sections. HHI is a non-registered industry, run by only family members.

The number as well as percentage of “other workers” has been increasing across all sections. More SCs are joining this category than any other section of the population.

 

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#India – Time limit of abortions raised to nine weeks #MTP


New Delhi |April  26 Friday, 2013 5:36:05 PM IST

The time limit for abortions has been increased from seven to nine weeks to facilitate family planning, the Drug Controller General of India has said.

Nozer Sherian, secretary general of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies (FOGSI), said here Friday: “The Drug Controller General has increased the time limit of abortions to 63 days, that is nine weeks.”

In the last two years, 332,000 medical abortions were carried out, which show that if given a choice, women want to limit their families.

“This is very important as around eight percent of maternal deaths take place due to unsafe abortions,” he said.

FOGSI is promoting medical abortions along with Interuterine Medical Devices (IUD) to help people plan their families.

Hema Diwakar, president of FOGSI, said that women are now given a choice of post-placental IUD as soon as they give birth.

The family planning initiative taken up by the FOGSI and the Population Services International (PSI) is called ‘Pehel’. It is run mostly in urban slums.

It covers 30 districts in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Ten additional districts in these three states would be covered in the next phase.

“Pehel Phase 3 will continue to complement the government’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality and increase the contraceptive prevalence rate,” said Pritpal Marjara, director of PSI.

According to government data, every year about 78,000 women die during pregnancy, child birth or within 43 days of delivery in India.

Indo-Asian News Service spc/rt/tb

Consultations for National Plan of Action to Improve CSR (Child Sex Ratio)


Press Information Bureau, jAN 8, 2013
Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister for Women and Child Development held
consultations today to formulate a National Plan of Action to Improve the
Child Sex Ratio. She chaired a meeting of representatives of various
ministries such as HRD, Social Justice and Empowerment, Water and
Sanitation, Health and Family Welfare, Panchayat and Rural Development,
Planning Commission, and with members of civil society organizations,
advocates, radiologists, gynaecologists and doctors. Representatives from
UNFPA, UNICEF, and UNDP also participated in the consultations held here
today.

At the outset, the Minister said that declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR), in
its present nature and scale, is a cause of urgency and concern. She stated
that child sex ratio is a powerful indicator of the social response and
attitude towards the girl child. The Minister stated that while certain
States have consistently shown low number of women population like Punjab,
Haryana and Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and
Maharashtra. There are as many as 119 districts with CSR lower than the
already low average on 914. The districts with lowest CSR are mainly
located in Northern and Western States of the country. What is even more
alarming, Smt. Tirath pointed out was that the practice of prenatal sex
selection spreads, the sex ratio at birth in urban areas remains far worse
898 for than for rural areas where it was 907 in 2008-10.

The Minister stated that a low sex ratio for a nation has adverse
implications not only for gender equality but also for social violence,
human development and democracy. The situation becomes more complicated
because one it is not merely related to poverty and also because it leads
to adverse consequences, she elaborated. Smt. Tirath stated that merely
State-led intervention alone cannot tackle a problem that is multi
dimensional in nature- it is social, economic and cultural, and it is only
through a joint effort of the civil society and the government that this
problem can be resolved. While outlining the various initiatives taken up
by the Ministry for Women and Child Development to arrest this trend in
declining CSR, she said that a convergence of schemes across sectors and
Ministries is the need of the hour. The consultations with various
stakeholders is a step in the direction of formulating a comprehensive and
holistic national plan of action to tackle this multi-sectoral issue, she
stated. Plans at the central, state and district levels needed to be
framed, she added.

The various participants at the consultation highlighted the gravity of the
situation. They were of the view that there exists a grave danger of gender
imbalance due to this. The spread of declining CSR in the rural areas is
mainly due to easy availability of cheap sex determination machines in
these areas and poor implementation of the PCPNDT Act. It was also pointed
out that the urban areas have shown a growing incidence of declining CSR.
Speakers were of the view that there is a need for better access of the
available schemes, laws and entitlements for women in order to create a
sense of gender equality. Equal remuneration for women at workplace and
equal economic opportunities was also highlighted by some. Participants
stressed on balance and equalization of schemes for immunisation,
education, primary school enrolment, nutrition, skill acquisition between
men and women. Strengthening the monitoring of laws to prevent
sex-selection abortion, stringent exemplary punishment to the culprits
would go a long way to arrest the menace, it was discussed.

Participants brought insight from the projects that they have been
spearheading at various levels both within and outside the government. Some
favoured a strong involvement of the community in taking care of the
decline. Some also pointed that the continuous decline in CSR was a
‘governance’ issue as many of the schemes did not reach the women. Need for
better facilities such as water at doorsteps, toilets near the homes would
go a long way in gender justice and hence remove the perception of drudgery
associated with ‘womanhood’. Need was also expressed for better governance
structures and institutions at the local level and better coordination
between schemes such as Anganwadi, NRHM, local self governing bodies and
self help groups to prevent duplication and pooling of available skills and
resources, both in the urban and rural areas. Some participants suggested
that a framework of gender rights needs to be established which would
provide the overall framework for this issue.

 

56% women face assault in Bihar #VAW


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PATNA: About 50% women in Bihar are subjected to domestic violence at home and pregnant women are the worst sufferers, according to the State Commission for Women. The main reasons behind it include the desire for male child, resistance to female foeticide and denial of physical intimacy. A large number of males also beat up their wives during pregnancy.

According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) figures for last year, 56% women in the state between the age of 15 and 49 years are subjected to physical and sexual violence. Bihar ranked second in the country, behind Uttar Pradesh, in kidnapping cases, dowry deaths and dowry-related crimes against women in the year 2011.

NCRB records show that women in Bihar tend to marry at an early age. Thirty-eight per cent of women get married between 15-19 years.

Sources said less than one per cent domestic violence cases are reported to police. Domestic violence also includes domestic abuse, spousal abuse, family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), and can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family or friends.

According to Chandramukhi Devi, member of the State Commission for Women, women should be made aware of legal provisions to protect themselves. She added that aggressive males should also be counselled.

City SP, Patna, Jayant Kant, said, “Majority of women in Bihar still marry before reaching the legal eligible age of 18 years. In cases of domestic violence, we try to counsel the couples first, but if police find the level of violence has crossed the limit, action is taken.”

According to police records, around 150 cases of violence against women get registered with different police stations every month in Patna district. After the creation of Patna Mahila thana on June 3 this year, only five cases have been registered. The Mahila thana officials said, “Initially, many women came to the police station, but later they got hesitant and despite all odds, decided to stay with their husbands due to financial insecurity.”

Maharahstra leads in conviction of Doctors for Sex Selection


 

, TNN | May 16, 2012,

NEW DELHI: Actor Aamir Khan, whose first episode of tele-show Satyamev Jayate focused on sex selection, will be happy to hear this.

In 2011, 21 clinics and 22 doctors were convicted under the Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, for carrying out sex selection of an unborn child.

Census, 2011, showed girl child is still a curse and unwanted. And, the girl child population has fallen to an all-time low since Independence. The sex ratio for 2011 stands at 914 girls down from 927 girls for 1,000 boys in 2001.

Maharashtra led the way in 2011, with the highest number of convicted cases against doctors at 15, followed by Haryana (7) and Madhya Pradesh (2).

Majority of the punishments included three years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1.3 lakh.

Dr Ambadas Kadam from Maharashtra was convicted on November 14, 2011, with a three-year jail term and had to cough up the highest compensation of Rs 1.3 lakh.

All the convictions in Haryana resulted in a three-year jail term, and also had to pay fines between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000.

The two convictions in MP resulted in imprisonment of one month and a fine of Rs 1,000. Maharashtra, however, made an example of such cases. The minimum jail term in all the convictions in the state was two years. Fines charged were Rs 70,000, Rs 60,000, Rs 52,000 and Rs 38,000 in majority of the cases.

According to Union health ministry’s figures, only around 6% of cases filed against doctors involved in sex selection practices in the 17 states with the most skewed sex ratio had ended up in convictions till March, 2011.

Altogether 805 cases had been filed in court against doctors till March 31, 2011, ever since the revised PCPNDT Act came into force. Only 55 convictions were recorded during the same period.

The rest of the cases were either still going on or dropped for “poor investigation and insufficient evidence against the accused”.

Till March, 2011, convictions were highest in Haryana (23), followed by Punjab (22), Gujarat (4), Maharashtra (3), Delhi (2) and Chandigarh (1). The highest number of cases against doctors was filed in Rajasthan (161), but none has resulted in conviction till date.

Maharashtra filed 139 cases, Punjab (112), Gujarat (82), MP (70), Delhi (61), Uttar Pradesh and Haryana (54), Andhra Pradesh (19), Bihar (10), Uttarakhand (9), Chhattisgarh (5), Jharkhand (3) and Chandigarh (2).

During the same period, 168 ultrasound machines were sealed in Gujarat, followed by Haryana (133). Maharashtra sealed 82 machines, Rajasthan (76), Odisha (68), Delhi (48), Punjab (26), UP (37), Jharkhand (13) and Andhra Pradesh (12).

“Recent meetings impressed upon states on the importance of follow up of a court case, building a strong case for prosecution, putting in place the mechanism for legal assistance and engagement with state legal services authorities, besides training workshops for judiciary and public prosecutors,” an official said.

An official added, “India’s conviction rates are shockingly low. That’s because doctors, who carry out the search and seizure operations, aren’t good at filing legal cases and presenting a full-proof investigation, helping violators go scot-free.”

The 17 states were recently told by the ministry to identify and map their worst-affected districts, blocks and even localities.

The girl, child of a lesser god


 Carte Blanch- Anup Kumar Dutta

The reality of gender discrimination against women, at infant, children and adult levels, is one of the all too many clouds which darken the touted image of “India Shining.” Our society since time immemorial has been a male-dominated one.

Despite endeavours of the state, primarily legalistic, as also of a pro-active judiciary and efforts of reformist segments within society, to bring about gender equality not much of a dent has been made in an age-old mindset. The societal structure, prevalent customs, ethical mores related to issues such as marriage, the economic mechanism — everything continues to be designed to ensure the subservience of women.

Thus, one need not be surprised that the latest data released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) for 100 countries over 40 years starkly reveals the truth that an Indian girl is 75 per cent more likely to die between one and five years than an Indian boy, thereby making our country earn the dubious distinction of having the highest gender differential in the world.

For what it is worth, newly released data from the Union home ministry has indicated a drop in infant mortality rate (IMR) in India to a national average of 47 to every 1,000 births, though all states have not been able to maintain this.

While Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh record the highest infant mortality rate in the country, states like Assam with 58 and Bihar with 48 per 1,000 have yet to catch up. It needs to be noted that the welcome decline in infant (0-1 years) and child (1-5 years) mortality is a global phenomenon and brought about by improved medical facilities and greater hygienic awareness.

The disturbing factor is that, according to the UN-DESA, while across the world there has simultaneously been a drop in female infant and child mortality than in male, in India such a trend has not been maintained. It is cold comfort that India’s economic rival China is the only other country in the world which shows a similar negative trend against the girl child. In the developing world as a whole there are 122 male infant deaths against every 100 female infant deaths, but in China, the figure is 76 male infant deaths against 100 female infant deaths.

India, with 97 male infant mortality and 56 male child mortality against every 100 female infant and child mortality fares somewhat better, but not enough for a nation which aspires towards a truly gender equal society. Even our smaller neighbours with differences in demographic and religious characteristics have far more positive figures for female mortality than us.

In Pakistan, for example, despite that nation being perceived by the West as a country where women do not enjoy status equal to men, the ratio of male infant mortality is 120 and male child mortality 100 compared to every 100 female infant and child mortality. Sri Lanka, with a ratio of 125 male infant mortality and 111 male child mortality, fares even better.

It has been an established biological fact that the female of the species is far hardier and better adapted to survive than the male. Thus, given equal familial and societal importance and share in the resources, logic dictates that the girl child should be more likely to survive between the age of one and five than the boy child. This is a clear indication that broadly in India, the girl, child of a lesser god, from an early age confronts deprivation in every sphere, whether it is in nutrition, education, healthcare. To compound matters, discrimination, in fact, begins at the very pre-natal stage, especially in North India, where the blight of female foeticide even today remains endemic in spite of stringent laws being enacted against it.

Equally unfortunately, sex selection  is not confined only to the illiterate and underprivileged section of society, but is also prevalent among the educated and more affluent urban middle-class. A segment of the medical fraternity has conspired to ensure that pre-natal, sex-selective abortion is easily available notwithstanding laws enacted to combat it. For instance, medically diagnosed possible danger to a mother at childbirth is offered as a convenient alibi for sex-selective abortions, something that the authorities are incapable of combating legally. If we take into account the number of unregistered sex-selective abortions  in the country, the data offered in the UN-DESA report on India regarding female infant mortality would be far worse!

A similar, pagan mindset also ensures that girls are discriminated against in the post-natal phase in matters of nutrition and healthcare, though statistics point to the prevalence of such a bias more among the underprivileged segment of Indian society. Thus, a sustained campaign against  sex selection is not the only solution towards turning the statistics in favour of a girl child. The issue is far more complicated than it may appear, for there are too many ramifications — social, physiological, psychological and so on — for a simplistic appraisal or endeavour to suggest measures for redress.

However, one of the facets stands out and must be the focus of attention. As in most other aspects of our society, the economic factor lies at the core of discrimination against the girl child. This is made more evident by the relative absence of gender discrimination amongst tribal communities, wherein women contribute equally as men in the familial economic mechanism and are thereby invested with equal status. In an area like the Northeast, where tribal communities predominate, the respect given to women is traditional and is reflected in lower girl infant and child mortality rate as compared to those of a boy. It hardly needs to be pointed out that in some communities in this region the matriarchal system prevails, which invests women with an importance that societies in other parts of India might find difficult to envisage.

On the other hand, the girl child is conceived to be an economic burden in many parts of India, particularly in the northern states, where gender discrimination is blatantly evident. Being physically weaker, girls are seen to be less adapted for tasks needing brawn, which is an integral requirement for useful contribution in communities devoted mainly to agriculture. The need to find suitable life mates for daughters in a system where arranged marriage is the custom, as also the need to raise dowry, adds to the so called “burden” on parents even amongst the urban middle-class.

The key to bringing about a change in perception is, therefore, initiation of means of empowerment of a girl child where she is given a level playing field and enabled to contribute to familial economy. Legislations by themselves not being enough, providing her with resources, particularly in the spheres of education and job opportunities is an essential requirement. Crass as it may sound, there has to be an endeavour to transform a girl into an economic asset rather than a burden if she is to be raised from her current status as a child of a lesser god.

Much progress has been achieved in this direction, but far more has to be done not only by the government, but also by enlightened sections in society. The media has an enormous role to play, as do non-government organisations. It is ironic indeed that a nation in which the female principle has traditionally been revered invests lesser importance to a girl child in actual practice. The very fact that, six decades after Independence, our legislators remain chary about reserving seats for women in the political arena is a telling indicator of the miles we have yet to travel towards eradicating gender discrimination in our country

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