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Sharp Drop in Ratio of Young Women in India Expected: Study

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With the decreasing sex ratio in India, it has been reported by the Indian Government that the sex ratio will drop further in the coming years. The report, by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation was published earlier in the year.

According to the report, the number of women every thousand men will drop to 898 in 2031, while it was 939 in 2011, based on a prognosis from the World Bank. This drop stipulates the unrelenting and continuous practice of sex-selective abortion, as said by the experts.

With the introduction and proliferation of the ultrasound technology, female foeticide has continued to only increase after the strong evidence of this evil in the 1980’s. The sex ratio dropped to 927 in 1991 as per the census report. Since then, it has managed to recoil marginally.

Discernment that men will take care of their ageing parents financially, a desire to pass lineage through a male heir and a fear of being financially crippled by a dowry are some of the foremost reasons for a preference for a male child among Indians. However, the fact reports are contradictory to these reasons. The most hapless reality states that even though the incomes and education are increasing, the exercise of sex-selective abortion continues to exist resulting in a decline in fertility.

“People are selecting to have fewer children but preferring and selecting to have boys”, says Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India, a non-governmental organization which promotes and advocates for the effective formulation and implementation of gender sensitive population, health and development strategies and policies.

In 1994, prenatal sex determination was outlawed in India but implementation of the same is negligent. “As the income levels rise, so do aspirations. As Indians emerge into middle class, they try to limit their family size and try focusing their resources on male children, who are seen to offer better return on investment. From more than five children in 1971, the fertility rate of women in urban areas has declined to just 2 children per woman in 2014.”

In 2014, Narendra Modi introduced the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign which aimed at raising awareness of the harm of sex selection. However, Poonam Muttreja feels that the campaign cannot just be a slogan. “We have to do a lot more in changing social norms”, she adds.

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