National Policy needed to tackle declining sex ratio

NEW DELHI: Terming the decline in child sex ratio (0-6 years) as an 'emergency', civil rights workers say there is lack of political will to address the issue which requires a national policy from the government before the situation goes out of hand. 

Census 2011 results show that among children up to the age of six, the number of girls per 1,000 boys has reduced to 914, a drop from 927 in 2001. As per the figures, this is lowest since the country's independence in 1947. 

"The government should take it as an emergency call. The solution is nothing but strict implementation of the PNDT Act. Ultrasound machines are so faulty that even quacks have access to them. Unless we strengthen and effectively implement this law, sex ratio would not improve," says Ranjana Kumari, chairperson of Centre for Social Research. 

"There is lack of political will to take the issue forward effectively. The Central Supervisory Board, which must meet every six months, has been non-existent for three years. The health minister should be held accountable for it," she adds. 

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act has been in force since 1996, but it has not proved handy in checking the declining sex-ratio, mainly due to poor implementation and low convictions of medical professionals found guilty. 

According to women rights activist Madhu Kishwar, the single most important reason for this decline in sex ratio is the growing spread of foeticide followed by sex determination tests. 

"This serious decline is a testimony to the failure of the fairly stringent laws against sex determination tests. The lowest sex ratio figures for the two relatively prosperous states close to the national capital, Haryana and Punjab, show that the laws are not effective in Delhi's immediate vicinity," says Kishwar. 

Though the overall sex ratio at the national level has increased by 7 points since the 2001 to reach 940 females per 1000 males, this is lower than 1961, when the figure stood at 941 females per 1000 males.