Female Foeticide

The problem of the “missing” girl child or the practice of female foeticide is not uncommon to the country. This practice robs missing daughters not only of their right to a healthy environment, good nutrition and education and the opportunity to reach their full potential, but most basically, their right to birth. Among the 18 indicators of women empowerment, sex ratio is the 1st and most important indicator for social empowerment of women. Although the census 2001 has registered marginal improvement in the overall sex ratio from 927 female per 1000 male in 1991 to 933 females in 2001, the sex ratio in the age group 0-6 has sharply declined from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001.The decline has been very sharp in the prosperous north Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. In Punjab the gap in the sex ratio in the age group of 0 to 6years has reached an all time high of 207, while it is 155 in Chandigarh, 121 in Haryana and 135 in Delhi. The ratio has declined even in Maharasthra, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Gujrat, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal which have done better in other gender development indices (NIPCCD 2008).

Sex Selection and Female Foeticide

The phenomenon of missing daughters over the past two decades is the biggest challenge to India’s growth and development today. Failure to protect the girl child is no longer just a health issue but an important child protection issue, deserving immediate and utmost attention. The 2001 census data and other studies illustrate the terrible impact of sex selection in India over the last decade-and-a-half. The child sex ratio (0-6 years) declined from 945 girls per 1,000 boys in 1991 to 927 in the 2001 census. The 10 districts with the worst sex ratios in the country- all below 800- specially all in Haryana and Punjab.

A study of births in three public and five private hospitals in Delhi between 1993 and 2002 found that sex ratios get worse according to birth order. Thus if the sex ratio for the 1st born is 923 girls...