Millennium Post

Trapped in womb

Despite all round development registered in the national Capital during the past decade and the half, Delhi is still grappling with the issue of female foeticide. Dangerously it is more prevalent in the educated and high income groups. Incidentally pro-girl child schemes launched by the government like the Ladli Yojana address families belonging to the poorer sections of the society and has failed to create any awareness among the rich in the city.

According to census report of 2011, Delhi’s literacy rate was recorded at 86.34 per cent, going up by 4.67 per cent in comparison to census figures of 2001, which recorded a literacy rate of 81.67per cent. The literacy rate gap between male and female has also recorded a fall. The difference between male and female literacy rates in Delhi is 10.10per cent, which is 6.58per cent lower than the national rate. This indicates great strides being made in educating women. However, as far as the child sex ratio is concerned, the picture is not similarly encouraging. It dipped in South West district from an already poor figure of 846 females per 1000 male 2001 to 836 females per 1000 males in census 2011. The 2011 census shows a substantial fall in the sex ratio in New Delhi, South and North district as well. While  South West is the worst among all nine districts, the overall child sex ratio in Delhi has declined marginally from 868:1000 in 2001 to 866:1000 in 2011.

With these four districts indicating an overall decline in sex ratio, ranging from 10 to 14 points between 2001 and 2011. It is evident that the state government’s schemes for the girl child and the so-called crackdown on sex determination centres has had little effect in these areas. Moreover, these districts have many upscale colonies and a large presence of upper middle class persons.

South West district has a mixed population, comprising of upscale localities like  Vasant Vihar, urban middle class areas of Vasant Kunj and Dwarka , unauthorised colonies and the rural belt of Bijwasan, Mahipalpur,Palam and Kapashera. According to doctors in the state health department, one of the reasons could be that the district aligns itself with the border and people from the South West may be getting their sex determination tests done in Gurgaon, where doctors were recently implicated for this act. The census data shows  an interesting trend in the remaining five districts. The Central district has the highest sex ratio in Delhi at 902 females per 1000 males though it is a point less than last time.

The districts of West, North West, East and North East have shown an improvement over 2001. All these districts are populated by a large number of lower-middle class and the poor who live in unauthorised colonies, resettlements and slums . In North district, the sex ratio was 886 females per 1000 males in 2001. It is now down by 14 points. In New Delhi district the ratio is down by 14 points and in the South  by 10 points. While all these districts have may posh localities and a large upper middle class and middle class presence, the declining sex ratio indicates the prevalence of a feudal mind set, where the male child is preferred. Therefore, according to experts, this indicates that declining sex ratios are not directly linked to poverty.

Few experts cited that with nuclear families becoming the norm in the capital and both men and women out to earn a living, many couples prefer a single child or at the most two. The 2011 census  reveals that a major reason for the gradual stabilization of population growth in Delhi is a fall in fertility.

The number of children in the 0-6 age group has gone down to 19.7 lakh as against 20.2 lakh in 2001. New Delhi district has the least number of children, at 21,496. Data shows that the North East has the highest proportion of the children to the total population among all nine districts at 13.22per cent . This is, however, down from 16.76 per cent in 2001. In terms of absolute numbers there are 2,96,317 children. Northeast also happens to have  the highest density. However, in terms of absolute numbers, North West district has the largest number of children at 4,30,805 followed by 3,34,941 children in South. North East district is at 2,96,317 children, West at 2,89,668 and there are 2,50,456 in the South West. The skewed sex ratio revealed in the 2011 census, showed that campaigns  by the government have not been very effective in curbing female foeticide. There has been a marginal increase in the female population from the last census, but Delhi’s attitude towards the girl child remains as dismal.

Girls are welcomed but not preferred, and these figures present a clearer picture. There are just 866 girls per 1000 boys. Boys are still seen as the traditional keepers of the family name. At least, this is what a research undertaken by the Institute of Home Economics, Delhi University, indicates.
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