Other States

Odisha’s sex ratio at birth slides

Researchers on gender issues and activists have expressed concerns over decline in sex ratio at birth for children born in Odisha in the last five years.

The National Family Health Survey 2020-21 (NFHS-5) says that there is sharp decline in sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years (females per 1000 males) in Odisha. It has come down from 932 from NFHS-4 to 894 in NFHS-5.

Wide variation has been noticed in sex ratio at birth in urban and rural pockets the State. While the sex ratio at birth in past five years in urban areas is 950, it is estimated at 885 in rural area.

On the contrary, overall sex ratio (females per 1000 males) of the State appeared to be healthy. Against sex ratio of 1,036 found in NFHS-4, there has been perceptible improvement in NFHS-5 and the sex ratio has gone up to 1,063. Ironically, overall sex ratio is healthy in rural area at 1,074 compared to 1,010 in urban areas.

As far as sex ratio at birth in five years is concerned, activists attributed it to impact of preference for males over females.

‘Disturbing trend’

“This is very disturbing trend. It indicates more preference is being given to sons over daughters. The discrimination reflected in the trend is likely to distort the population balance,” said Asha Hans, a leading researcher on gender issues.

Ms. Hans said, “low sex ratio at birth in rural sectors points to the fact that the social structure is still very weak. Despite massive awareness campaign launched under National Health Mission, patriarchal culture factor still dominates.”

Uppali Mohanty, an activist working with CYSD, a city-based non-government organization, said, “this is a dangerous indicator. The State government must get its act together to reverse the trend through sensitization and checking sex selection before child’s birth.”

“If the sex ratio at birth is allowed to slide further, the society may head for imbalance like being noticed in some of the northern States of India,” said Ms. Mohanty.

According to NFHS-5, Odisha has, however, registered improvement in female education, institutional delivery and health of mothers.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 12:23:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/odishas-sex-ratio-at-birth-slides/article37743878.ece

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