Millennium Post

She wants to be born with honour

The skewed child sex ratio in India, which is a matter of serious concern, has now been taken note of by the National Advisory Council (NAC), which has suggested some remedial measures to correct this wrong. It is most shocking that the provisional data in the 2011 census has shown that the child sex ratio, that is, of the age group zero to six, has come down to 914 females per 1000 males against 927 in 2001. This is the lowest ever ratio since Independence. Despite progressive legislation and welfare policies and measures in existence for decades aimed at correcting the bias in favour of boys, these have had no effect and the situation has, in fact, worsened. The NAC has rightly stated that the declining sex ratio is not a problem restricted narrowly to the issue of decreasing birth of girl children but is central to women's rights and gender equity and justice. It is hardly necessary to state that the child sex ratio is not just a good indicator of the attitude and outlook towards the girl child in our society but also reveals the ground realities that exist in our society at a given time, examining as it does, the social response to female children. The data shows a deep-rooted problem in our society regarding gender bias that continues and has not been easy to eradicate. Other than the issue of gender justice, a rapid decline in child sex ratio is a serious problem with severe socio-economic, demographic and cultural implications. A deficit in the girl child population leads to a demographic imbalance, which has adverse social consequences. The sex composition of the child population impacts vital future socio-economic factors, such as marriage rate, labour force, age structure, birth and deaths, and migration. Changes in these will have serious consequences for the country in the future.

The drastic decline in child sex ratio is thus an issue of grave concern in India, and efforts are needed to create an equal regard and affection for the girl child. This will need a host of state-sponsored interventions above and beyond those currently undertaken. The NAC's draft policy suggests a national communication and advocacy strategy targeted at behaviour change, so that women are projected as useful members of society rather than as liabilities. It also calls for a review of gender-related laws and policies including the dowry prohibition law, amendments to laws related to rape and connected provisions. There is also a suggestion for the sensitised of students and professionals through appropriate course curricula. These steps have to be considered seriously if the skewed child sex ratio in the country has to be righted. 
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