The gender composition of the district throws up some interesting trends and as is the case with the child sex ratio, it gives rather puzzling figures.

The child sex ratio which measures the proportion of girls to boys in the 0-6 age group however, dropped to 946 in 2011 from 952 in 2001. This figure is only marginally higher than the State average of 943.

The puzzling thing is that in the seven and above age group, the sex ratio is positive; it is 1,026 in 2011 and only slightly higher in 2001 at 1,032.

Declining ratio

Despite this, figures maintained by the Reproductive and Child Heath (RCH) section of the Department of Health show a steadily declining child sex ratio.

RCH Officer Rukmini M. said the department has been maintaining the figures over the last four years. From 982 in 2006-07, the figure nosedived to 930 the following year and has remained at 923 for the next two years.

Ms. Rukmini said that the figures were fairly reliable as they cross-checked their data of births and deaths with the network of anganawadi workers.

Concern

A few months ago, the Health Department's concern was evident in the appeal it issued to the public, requesting people to report sex-selection and ensuring anonymity to informers.

Responding to the contradictory figures, retired professor of Social Work Rita Noronha said that the data for Dakshina Kannada which she had come across was confusing. Ms. Noronha, who has researched the subject for a project on gender sensitivity, however, said:

“Why is the decline so steep?”

She is of the opinion that a combination of pre-selection of the sex of the baby as well as sex detection are responsible for the declining number of girls born.

She said that ideally, there should be over 1,000-1,050 girls for every 1,000 boys, as given a level-playing field, a male foetus was miscarried by the body more than the female foetus.

Positive sex ratio

A look at the sex ratio of the census data of the last century shows that the district has always positive, and has hovered between 1,020 and 1,040 over the decades. (Sex ratio is calculated as the number of girls per thousand boys).

Only in three censuses, including the present has it gone below this range.

Starting out at the beginning of the century in 1901, there were 1,029 girls to 1,000 men in the district, and shot up the very next census to 1,041 and peaked in 1941 with 1,049.

In the next decade the census showed 1,048 but after this period the figure dipped to 1,027 in 1961 and in 1971 to its lowest at 1,006.

At the end of the century, in 2001, the ratio came full circle to 1,022, back to around the same figure as it was in 1901. In 2011, it stands at 1,018.

Keywords: child sex ratio

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