Free Essay On Skewed Sex Ratio In India

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, India, Ultrasound, Health, Ratio, Children, Vehicles, Health Care

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/10/20

1. Background: India which is one of the world’s fastest growing economies is today facing an acute social problem of female foeticide and infanticide resulting in a skewed sex ratio. The number of girls per 1000 boys was 945 in 1991,927 in 2001 and 914 in 2011(Gangte). The government has made several efforts to check the menace in the past decade but results have been far from satisfactory. Steps such as laws prohibiting doctors from disclosing the sex of foetuses and compulsory registration of clinics using ultrasound machines have failed to check the usage of the machines in determination of the sex of the unborn child. Manufactures and retailers of ultrasound machines like General Electric Co. and Eribus Engineering are now increasingly being held responsible for the problem by certain activists, government officials and medical experts (Wonacott). But the companies maintain that they have complied with all the necessary regulations in this regard and it is unfair to blame them for the misuse of a technology which is primarily intended to make childbirth safer especially in smaller cities of India. Strong penal action against offenders seldom happens due to the overburdened and slow judicial mechanism in the country. The northern states of India are the worst victims where gender imbalance has fuelled a booming human trafficking business in order to fulfil the meet the demand of women for marriage in rural areas. Healthcare in India is handled by the states and lack of coordinated effort among them and reluctant attitude towards successful implementation of women welfare schemes initiated by successive central governments has resulted in failure to arrest the problem during the past three decades. The new government at Centre has now decided to step in and protection and education of the girl child has been given top priority.
2. Problems: The sharp decline in female sex ratio can be majorly attributed to female foeticide and infanticide in India. Growth in income of the middle and lower strata’s of society has resulted in greater affordability of gender identification procedures for these groups. Ultrasound equipment sales have been increasing year by year due to heightened demand from smaller towns and semi-urban areas (Wonacott). It is to be noted that most of these areas also suffer from problems like lack of education, rampant poverty and unemployment. When combined with psychological factors like patriarchal mind-set and perception of a girl child as a financial burden because of highly prevalent practice of dowry, the cost benefit analysis appeals towards having a preference for the male child. Most of the middle and lower income group families are ready to spend a substantial amount of money on sex determination of the foetus for one time as compared to facing the prospect of raising a daughter which would include saving for the rest of their lives for her education ,dowry and other marriage related expenses. Although higher income groups also are not left untouched from this evil as for them the consequent cost of dowry increases as per the financial health of the girl’s family. Efforts on part of governments and NGO’s to address the fundamental reasons behind the problem have been outpaced by rapid increase in availability of ultrasound machines and consequent reduction in the cost of sex determination procedures. Therefore the focus of the campaign against female foeticide is slowly shifting towards manufacturers of ultrasound equipment who are being blamed of being to reluctant to adopt stricter mechanisms to prevent unlawful sale of the ultrasound machines (Wonacott).
3. Course of Action: A comprehensive strategy is needed to solve the problem and it would involve determined efforts not only from the Central and respective state governments but also from various other stakeholders like medical associations, NGO’s, local bodies and Healthcare industry. The government should ensure adequate provisions for education, health and well-being of girls along with creating sufficient opportunities for their economic independence so that the perception of their being a financial burden is dispelled (Gangte). At the same time it should deal with any instance of practice of dowry (which is a punishable offence) in strictest manner possible. NGO’s and civil society can further augment these efforts by utilizing their flexible structure and deep penetration in the far flung and backward areas of the nation. Health care equipment manufactures can play their part by ensuring that their products are sold only in confirmation with the government’s guidelines and regulatory provisions. A strong audit mechanism should be put in place to ensure that the medical clinics are not indulging in sex determination of the unborn child under the pretext of providing cheap pre-natal care. Prevention of bride trafficking in form of purchase of brides from Eastern states (which are poorer but have a better sex ratio compared to the northern states) can only be achieved by coordinated action from the law enforcement agencies of all the states concerned(Anand).
4. Recommendations: The greatest stress in this regard has to be laid upon educating the society on the adverse impact of the falling sex ratio. It needs to be conveyed that ultrasound machines are meant to ensure safe child delivery and not to be used as a weapon against the girl child. This can only be achieved with concrete efforts from government’s side as restricting the sale of ultrasound machines is just a partial and half-hearted attempt to solve a much larger problem. Instead of dragging the manufacturers like General Electric Co. and others to courts, their active support should be sought in order to ensure that the ultrasound equipment does not fall into hands of people who are ready to take advantage of general public’s ignorance (Wonacott). Complete information about the patients who avail the facilities of ultrasound clinics needs to be recorded in order to ascertain whether if they opted for abortion after the scans, thus effectively singling out those centres who are involved in sex determination. Timely audit of all such centres coupled with stringent background checks by ultrasound companies before sales will discourage any such malpractice in future (Wonacott). A targeted and aggressive information and awareness campaign to inform the public of consequences of resorting to sex determination should be initiated. Care needs to be taken that any such campaign does not restrict itself to only popular social media and metropolitan cities but actually reaches out to the public across all sections of society in areas with a poor sex ratio. Any success in eradicating this social evil can only be achieved by changing the mind set of public towards the issue and ensuring that the girl child receives equal care and support not only within her family but also is allowed to live a life of self-respect and dignity(Wonacott).
5. Conclusions: Providing quality healthcare continues to be one of the most important aims of successive governments in India. Initiatives like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” (Save the daughter, Educate the daughter) by government clearly show that reversing the gender gap is of paramount importance. Increased cooperation with private sector will be a much better strategy to tackle the problem of skewed sex ratios instead of attempting to regulate a booming healthcare industry in India. With a changed mind-set of general public achieved by education and gender sensitization, the on-going penetration of global healthcare giants such as GE healthcare in hitherto untouched regions of the country would become the backbone of healthcare revolution in future. As Indian economy continues to create more and more resources for social sector initiatives, stress needs to be placed on not only quantifiable targets like MMR, IMR and especially a well-balanced sex ratio but also on qualitative targets like elimination of dowry and social & economic freedom for women. Solving the problem of skewed sex ratio in India is just a small step in the journey towards giving the Indian women their rightful place in society.

Works Cited

Anand, Anu. 'Bride Trafficking Fuelled By India's Gender Imbalance | Anu Anand'. the Guardian. N.p., 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.
Gangte, Margaret. 'Skewed Sex Ratio: Gender Poverty Alleviation In India'. Global Journal of HUMAN SOCIAL SCIENCE 11.10 (2011): 1-8. Print.
Wonacott, Peter. 'Medical Quandry: India’S Skewed Sex Ratio Puts GE Sales In Spotlight'. The Wall Street Journal (2007): A1-A8. Print.

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