Gap in birth rates widening: study

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation recently released ‘Children in India -2012: A statistical appraisal’, a report detailing the widening gap in birth sex ratios in the country.

Author Anna Rees, 10.16.12

The report outlines that the number of girls born in 2011 dropped by nearly three million compared with Census data taken in 2001. In comparison, the male birth rate dropped by just over two million between 2001 and 2011. This comes in the wake of the inaugural ‘International Day of the Girl’ which was held last Thursday.

The report also highlights the increase in crimes committed against children, which jumped by 24 percent from 2010 outlining that Uttar Pradesh features the highest rate of crime against children of all the states. In 2011, there was a nationwide 43 percent increase in cases of kidnapping and abduction while cases of child rape increased 30 percent.

This jump in statistics poses an immediate cause for concern. There are presently a number of grassroots campaigns which aim to reverse these trends and, in particular, instigate a shift in thinking towards recognising the birth of a girl as a gift rather than a burden.

The Sun Foundation in Delhi is one such organisation which aims to educate people about female foeticide and gender discrimination, setting up a mobile unit that moves from village to village detailing the growing gender gap, speaking out against sex-selective tests and demonstrating the abundance of positives the birth of a girl can bring to a family. The organisation has also pledged to sponsor the education of 100 girls in Haryana in 2012.

The village of Dharhara in the state of Bihar is also taking matters into its own hands, welcoming the birth of baby girls by planting fruit trees (mainly mango).

Efforts such as these are vital to shifting public thought about infanticide but widespread, national action addressing the issues of low female birth rates and crimes against children must also come from the top down.

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Author: Anna Rees/ RESET editorial

The Dowry System

The giving of gifts or money (otherwise known as a dowry) to a groom on behalf of the bride’s family is common practice in India, a marital tradition which dates back centuries. The dowry buys into people’s pride and desire to “save face” and the system (and exactly what is given) has substantial consequences for families and women in general.