The declining female sex ratio has been a matter of concern for several years now. The 1991 and 2001 Census had set the alarm bells ringing when data showed that in several parts of the country, especially in the age group 0-6 years, the ratio of girls per 1000 boys had fallen from 945 in 1991 to 914 in 2012. This was attributed to the large-scale practice of sex- selective abortion.
There are various socio-economic and health implications of a declining sex ratio. A fall in the number of females in society is likely to increase sex-related crimes against women, polyandry, bride selling, prostitution, sexual exploitation and increase in cases of STD and HIV/ AIDS. The health of the woman is affected as she is forced to go for repeated pregnancies and abortions.
It has been found that the imposition of a two-child norm,where disincentives are associated with the number of children, also has a negative impact on the sex ratio and needs to be strongly discouraged.
Focus on the girl child
While we have worked on empowering women to exercise their reproductive rights, it was in 2001 that we took up the issue of sex-selective abortion as a priority advocacy area. A state-level advocacy campaign with support from Plan International was initiated in 2003 in 11 states where the 0–6 sex ratio was low. The campaign highlighted the positive value of the girl child and interlinked the issue of sex-selective abortion with human rights.
At the district and sub-district levels, we
At the state level, we