This is the message going around in the hills for the last decade. The result is that Uttarakhand today stands 7th in the list of states with declining female population.
The world over for every 1000 men there are 1050 women while in India they are only 927. In Uttarakhand the figure has dropped from 948 in 1991 to 906 in 2001, a shocking drop of 42. While Bihar showed a drop of 15 in the same period, UP registered a drop of 11. Lakshadweep and Sikkim registered a growth of 33 and 21 per thousand.
The richest states of India have shown the maximum decline in female population: Punjab (82), Harayana (59), Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh (54), Gujarat and Delhi (50). This negates theories that illegal sex determination is the result of poverty and financial pressures.
A Delhi survey showed that in most cases, the decision to undertake a sex determination test and female foeticide was taken by the husband and wife. Contrary to the popular stereotype, the mother in law is involved directly in only 1% of the cases. Social expectations, indirect family pressures and threats of husband remarriage appear to condition the woman to want male babies. Not wanting to go through repeated pregnancies till a male child is born accentuates the problem. Abortions against the will of the wife are not common.
According to an AIIMS paper, of the 60 lakhs abortions which take place annually in India, 20 lakhs are spontaneous and 40 lakhs are induced; out of which only 5-6 lakhs are legal.
According to field workers, majority of abortions in Uttarakhand are in the cities, conducted by trained doctors after an ultrasound also by a trained doctor. Nurses, midwives, quacks also carry out abortions of lower middle class families, usually in the first trimester (three months) by “medical” means like giving Allopathic or Ayurvedic tablets, massages or herbs. Very few handle second trimester abortions or indulge in invasive techniques like D&C. Ultrasounds in the first Trimester cannot identify the sex of the fetus with certainty and sometimes erroneously and occasionally purposefully male fetuses are identified as female.
Slogans, putting up posters and giving money at birth of girls cannot make any significant impact because money is rarely the cause of foeticide and most of the people are educated middle class people. PNDT Act had reduced the practice but has a number of loopholes.
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