The Breakthrough Voice 1st June, 2020

Gender-Biased Sex Selection: Still Plagues Us In The 21st Century.

Gender-biased sex selection is illegal and people still practice it without fear and guilt.

The findings of the Census, 2001 showed that there are 927 women within the country for every 1000 men. Regardless, the 2011 Census showed a decline within the sex ratio with only 919 women for every 1000 men. 

According to the Population Research Institute:

  • Since 1990, approximately 15.8 million girls in India have been eliminated through sex-selective abortion and other forms of prenatal sex selection.
  • 550,000 girls are selectively aborted every year in India. 
  • In India today – approximately 111 boys are born for every 100 girls.
  • Approximately 4.1% of all female live births since 1990 have been prevented by the practice of sex-selective abortion.

These statistics clearly show how much the social and cultural fabric of Indian society contributes to the secondary status of women and girls. Overall, the sex ratio in India has declined from 903 in 2007 to 898 in 2018, as per Niti Aayog.

Approximately 4.1% of all female live births since 1990 have been prevented by the practice of sex-selective abortion.

While states such as Manipur and Nagaland have shown a sharp deterioration in child sex ratio, the skewed ratio has improved marginally in Punjab and Haryana. Even after the scientific community has shared that the male gamete is responsible for the determination of sex, society still holds the mother responsible for bringing the girl child into the family.

After over 70 years of independence, India has still not achieved equity in the social sphere. It is facing the problem of gender discrimination in every aspect of life where boys are favoured over the girls. It even starts before birth in the form of prenatal screening and gender-biased sex selection.

Consequences of the practice of gender-biased sex selection in India are horrible. It results in various social, economic and psychological imbalances and impacts the whole society. The Indian Government enacted the Pre–Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act of 1994 in an endeavour to curb gender-biased sex selection which prohibits sex-selective abortion and regulates prenatal diagnostic techniques to forestall their misuse by anyone.

Also Read: The Declining Child Sex Ratio: And A Connection To The Workforce

It is difficult to mention whether the act was ineffective or the implementation was not up to the mark since the issue still plagued society even after the legal ban. Skewed sex ratio is one amongst the key consequences of social evil. The declined sex ratio further results in other social impacts. Many of the economically developed states of India like Haryana, Rajasthan, etc could not solve the matter of gender-biased sex selection.

Even after having all available resources and legal proficiency,  they are not capable of preventing this illegal instrument used by people. Not to mention that this shortage of women for marriage, a foreseeable consequence of this skewed sex ratio has resulted in a new trend which is the called the ‘Indian marriage market’. Other serious consequences include the trafficking of girls, an increasing number of child marriages, increasing maternal deaths and the ill-health of women, polyandry, etc.

The possible reasons for sex-selective abortions are many – which include socio-cultural preferences during which men and boys are preferred because they are expected to earn a livelihood. Patriarchy is a system of male domination and the subjugation of women – who are considered the ‘weaker sex’ and believed to be an economic burden within the household. Other reasons include unequal access to resources and poor economic conditions. Although the dowry system was legally ended by the Dowry Prohibition Act, in reality, it is still there.

Overall, the sex ratio in India has declined from 903 in 2007 to 898 in 2018.

India incorporates a weak social security system, as it is the preference of boy over a girl which makes people start assuming girls as mere liabilities. The new India still faces the orthodox and illogical systematic structures. This is a country where people worship goddesses and where women are considered as an incarnation of goddesses, but on the contrary – it eliminates girls before they are born. Aren’t these the double standards of society? Apparently, yes.

The responsibility of gender-biased sex selection is collectively shared by all of us as a society. And there is an urgent need to enter the root cause, finding and devising methods for prevention and looking for an answer to the current problem.

The government has taken a few steps in the form of implementing schemes, however, making them successful is another matter. That rests on the hands of the government AND society. Everyone should understand and take responsibility for this social evil in order to establish aspects of gender equality in its true sense.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About The PCPNDT Act

Featured image used for representational purpose only. Image source: Jagran Josh

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