Aarti Dhar

Punjab shows worst results with 527 girls for every 1,000 boys

NEW DELHI: The sex ratio has further declined in the five northern States with Punjab showing the worst results — there were only 527 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2005 as against 754 girls as per the 2001 Census.

This has happened despite girl-friendly policies, public information campaigns and law to arrest culprits performing sex detection tests and aborting female foetuses, according to a survey conducted by ActionAid in collaboration with the Canada-based International Development Research Centre. However, the latest survey was conducted on a small number of people as compared to the national census. Women in more than 6,000 households across Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh were interviewed.

Poor overall ratio

The survey suggests that there was an overall poor sex ratio. Some places and communities have exceptionally low sex ratio, lower than the average for both rural and urban areas.

In Punjab, the rural Jat Sikh community has a ratio of below 500 girls for every 1,000 boys. In urban areas, upper caste Hindus have a ratio of 300 girls to 1,000 boys.

The juvenile sex ratio (0-6 years) indicates 842 girls for places surveyed in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh (815 for 0-14 years) in 2005 as against 829 for the whole district in 2001. In the surveyed areas of Dhaulpur district in Rajasthan, the ratio now was 871 against 859 in 2001, the figure for 0-14 years being 824.

In Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, the figure has gone down to 789 compared to the 2001 figure of 836. Rohtak in Haryana had a figure of 780 against 796 in 2001.

But the worst case is Fatehgarh Sahib district of Punjab, where the figure had declined to 527 from 754 in 2001.

One-child families

There is a squeeze on family size which affected the number of daughters. The idea of a one-child family is catching up with families preferring to have a boy, the survey suggests.

The study also points to an interesting correlation between the declining sex ratio and a shift from agricultural to non-agricultural work in rural areas.

It talks of how modern technologies of sex selection such as the ultrasound combines with traditional ‘mantras,’ herbal potions and astrology to offer more options for those who desire male progeny.

In Morena, the respondents reported 11.7 per cent miscarriages and 4 per cent abortions in rural areas.

The figures for the urban sample were 24 per cent miscarriages and 14.9 per cent abortions.

In Dhaulpur, there were 13 per cent miscarriages and 3.4 per cent abortions in the rural sample. The figures for urban areas were 15.9 per cent miscarriages and 8.6 per cent abortions.