Sex ratio slips in 17 states, improves in 3

New Delhi: A health report card released by the Centre on Friday has found that girl-to-boy sex ratios at birth have declined in 17 of 21 large states, signalling their failure to curb the selective abortion of female foetuses after illegal sex disclosure.

Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are among the 17 states where the sex ratio at birth dropped between 2012-13 and 2014-15, says the Health Index released by the Niti Aayog.

In Bengal, the sex ratio at birth - the number of girls per 1,000 boys - dropped only one point, 951 to 950, while the drop was over 10 points in Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Haryana.

Only in Bihar, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the sex ratio improved, while it stagnated in Jammu and Kashmir. There is a "clear need" for states to implement the 1994 law that prohibits foetal sex disclosure to parents and to promote the value of the girl child, the report released with the index findings said.

"This is fresh evidence for our failure to stop this genocide," said Puneet Bedi, a New Delhi-based foetal medicine specialist who has been campaigning against prenatal sex determination for over three decades. "Crime isn't being punished."

The sex ratio at birth during a specific year reflects the extent to which there is a reduction in the number of girl children born by sex-selective abortions.

Although the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act of 1994 bans foetal sex disclosure to parents, and dozens of doctors have over the past decade been penalised for violating the law, activists say doctors continue to collude with parents.

Doctors at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, had in November 2017 documented the existence of secret mobile medical teams that visit the homes of pregnant women in the night and provide ultrasound scans and on-the-spot abortions.

The PGIMER doctors had described the plight of one such woman who was brought to their hospital after she had suffered bleeding in a botched-up abortion attempt.

Health researchers have predicted that India's failure to curb female foeticide and the declining sex ratio will exacerbate the skewed sex ratio and worsen violence against women.

"Doctors who collude with parents demanding sex disclosure services should be treated as contract killers. For whatever reason parents seek sex disclosure, the doctors do it only for the money," Bedi said.


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