New Delhi: Girl child survival is skewed
even in those areas of northern India having limited access to
public health facilities and modern ultrasound technology as
families `neglect` them to ensure there are few survivors,
says a new study.
Since families cannot know the sex of the foetus due
to lack of technology, girls born in these areas face
systematic healthcare neglect, especially in poorer communities
to `dispose them off`, says the study.
Allowing the umbilical cord of the newly born girl to
get affected, not spending on their healthcare and nutrition
and treating their death as `good riddance` show the neglect
faced by girls in these areas, adds the study.
`Disappearing Daughters`, the study has been conducted
by ActionAid and the International Development Research Centre
(IDRC) and has covered more than 6,000 families in Kangra in
Himachal, Morena in Madhya Pradesh, Dhaulpur in Rajasthan,
Rohtak in Haryana and Fategargh Saheb in Punjab.
The study has found the sex ratio even lower compared
to one recorded in 2001 census in all the rural and urban
sites surveyed, except for Rajasthan.
In Kangra, it has gone down from 900 in 2001 to 789,
from 765 to 734 in Fatehgarh, 776 from 785 in Rohtak and 842
from 851 in Morena.
However, the sex ratio has increased in Dhaulpur from
819 in 2001 to 871.
Although there appears to be some improvement in the
survival rates for first-born daughters but as family sizes
get smaller and parents want fewer children, the survival
chances of second and third daughters are plunging, according
to the study.
In Morena, the researchers found that a third daughter
born into a family now has only half as much chance of
survival as a son.
While boy-only families are on the rise, just 3 per
cent of families in Morena and Dhaulpur, 6 per cent in urban
Kangra and 2 per cent in Fatehgarh Saheb have daughter-only
Data from Fatehgarh Saheb shows that families are
increasingly stopping at one son. The chances of a second
child being born are disproportionately higher if the first
child is a daughter.
The problem of declining sex ratios cannot simply be
attributed to poverty, says the study. In both, rural and
urban sites surveyed, the proportion of girls was
significantly lower among those surveyed from the upper caste,
compared to the lower caste.