From scientific advancements to economic dominance, India’s growth over the past few decades has been prolific. However, the country faces a major problem when combating a deeply rooted prejudice: the favor of baby boys.
- The social causes behind the practice of female infanticide are numerous, as many citizens believe daughters do not offer the social security to parents that sons would. In some orthodox societies, the birth of daughter is considered a redundant investment that yields no returns, as, according to tradition, daughters marry away and live with their husbands and their families.
- Prenatal gender determination of the child through technologies like ultrasounds has facilitated a skewed gender ratio at birth. In addition, contrary to common perception, modern, smaller families with more money do not lead to even gender ratios; in fact, this situation puts more pressure on the families to produce a male heir due to the limited number of children they tend to have.
- This problem is not unique to India; China, Vietnam, Nigeria, and many Eastern European countries face this challenge as well. However, governments have implemented measures trying to address this problem.
- The governments in India, both at the central and state levels, have proactively tried to curtail female infanticide. For example, India’s Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnosis Techniques Act prohibits parents from choosing the gender of their children and limits the use of technologies such as ultrasound machines to hospitals registered under the Act. In addition, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act limits abortions of unintended pregnancies to 20 weeks, except in the case of saving the life of the mother. More recently, Uttar Pradesh has taken steps to limit the problem of foeticide by offering incentives to those who can turn in diagnostic centers or hospitals that offer services such as prenatal gender determination.
- No matter how much the government enforces its laws, true change can only happen through a fundamental transformation in the mindset of people.
- A normal child gender ratio is 952 females per 1000 males. (This number does not equal 1000 because, as per the World Health Organization, it seems to be Nature’s way of accounting for the fact that more boys tend to die at a young age than girls.) However, many states in India have a far lower ratio than 952.
- The Kanya.Life initiative attempts to establish areas of focus for authorities and NGOs to combat the problem of female infanticide.