While Maharashtra is stepping up its efforts to curb female foeticide after disturbing census data on the State's child sex ratio, more needs to be done

Government of Maharashtra has stepped up its activities against the growing practice of female foeticide after the 2011census threw up alarming data on the child sex ratio in the State. In association with UNFPA, it upped the frequency of raids and sealed several sonography centres. There is now a toll free helpline where complaints are registered and action initiated. But much more clearly needs to be done, says Dr Vibhuti Patel, Director, PGSR & Head, Dept of Economics, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai.

“Both the rural and urban centres are not doing well. The bottom four districts are Beed, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Buldana,” she says.

According to the 2011 census, Beed was the worst affected with a child sex ratio (CSR) of 801 as against 894 in the 2001 census. Jalna's CSR was 847, a fall from 903 in 2001, whereas Aurangabad's was 848, a fall from 890 in the past decade. Similar to these three districts, 30 more districts out of the 35 in the State had registered a decline since the 2001 census of much more than the national average.

It has been admitted by the government that the cause of sharp decline in sex ratio was a rise in sex determination tests and sex-selective abortions. They put sonography machine operators under a strict scanner. The campaign to ‘Save the Girl Child' was launched as a joint effort of the police, health and administrative officials.

A plan of action for the eight districts of Beed, Jalna, Aurangabad, Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Hingoli, and Parbhani was chalked out in collaboration with voluntary organizations in the Marathwada region. Raids of diagnostic centres by the Implementation of Pre Natal and Pre conception diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act committee revealed large scale sex determination tests leading to selective abortion of female foetuses in Marathwada, Mumbai and Pune.

Although Beed is known for illegal sex-selective abortions, people from throughout the State went there, she says. People from western Maharashtra go to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Those who can afford it go abroad. There is a need for widespread vigilance and awareness, she adds.