More than 1 lakh girls found ‘missing’

deepak pace

Ludhiana, December 21
”Girls in Punjab face a dilemma, though less number of them are born, more of them die or are killed. Altogether, more than one lakh girls might have gone “missing” in Punjab during the past decade due to the sex selective abortions leading to fall in sex ratio.
At least half of this number might have gone “missing” on account of higher female mortality rates in the younger generation. Regardless of the class, caste, religion, region or the income status, women in this state are increasingly going in for sex determination tests and getting the foetuses aborted. However, Sikhs, non-Scheduled Castes, literates or educated and rich are doing so at a much higher level than others. This observation has been made by Inderjit Singh, an IAS officer of Kerala cadre, in a study “who kill their daughter’s more-Insights from Census data of Punjab,” presented at the international conference on the “sustainable development, challenges before Asian society,” held at Punjabi University.
The study observed that a significant number of Punjabis prefer male over females. As per 2001 Census, out of 24.36 million people in the state, 12.99 millions were males and 11.37 millions females, resulting in an overall sex ratio of 876 which is significantly lower than the national average of 933. Although, the sex ratio decreased by six points only between 1991 and 2001, the sex ratio in the age group 0-6 showed a decline of 77 points. Decline in the child sex ratio in Punjab has been a cause of great concern. It is believed that sex determination tests leading to increased trend in sex selective abortions or female foeticide are responsible for this state of affair. In the past two decades, child sex ratio has declined by 110 points. In Punjab, sex ratio at birth has declined by 98 points during the past two decades. The study points out that there is a lack of evidence on sex selective abortions because most of the abortions are illegal and not reported. Sex selective abortions manifest itself, however, in an altered sex ratio at birth, which in the absence of sex selection are about 950 (105 males per 100 females). According to United Nations, normal sex ratio at birth are found to lie between 103 and 106 male per 100 females for most society. Sex related birth above 106 (below 943 females per 1000 males) suggest that pre-birth interventions are further reducing the likelihood of a female birth. The declining trend in sex related birth in Punjab in the past two decades as per various data source like the National Family Health Survey, Sample Registration System, civil registration system, special fertility and mortality survey, census and many micro studies clearly point out that the altered sex related birth is the result of human interventions to prevent the birth of unwanted girl child by using the modern technology of sex selection,
pre-birth sex determination and then aborting the foetus if it happens to be a female. The extremely low level of sex related birth of 833 in Punjab for the period 1984-98 as per NFHS-2 or 778 in 2000-2002 as per SRS or 769 in 2001-03 as CRS of 787 in 2000-01 as per Census 2001 clearly show that Punjab’s sex related birth is the lowest not only in the country, but possibly in the entire world.
Not only the sex related birth is the lowest in Punjab, sex differentials in mortality are also highest in the state.
The study laments,” Even with the rise in the educational standards, the SR of CBLOY does not show much improvement. Hence, it appears that in Punjab literates/educated class are resorting to SSAs more than illiterates, the increase in literacy levels or even that of female literacy levels had no positive impact on CSR”. Casting aspersions on the medical profession, the study points out, “Greed has driven the doctors and others in the medical profession to become active partners in committing the heinous crime of female foeticide. They may belong to a noble profession, but having originated from the same societal setup, do not see sex detection as unethical use of technology but as merely facilitating a social need. Some people argue in favour of sex determination tests on grounds of people right to decide their desired family size. Others say that the demand supply law would ensure that the shortage of girls lead to their enhanced value in the society. The material prosperity of the state appears have created more adverse conditions for females on account of the abuse of modern science and technology.