Equality of sexes? Not yet

Equality of sexes? Not yet

It has been seen that even the richest and the most educated families in West Delhi are obsessed with having a son instead of a girl child

Mitu Khurana West Delhi

The prejudice against girls in our country is nothing new but many people had hoped that as more people will become educated, the problem would gradually disappear. However, the opposite seems to be happening. Surprisingly, the ratio of girls to boys is lowest in some of the wealthiest states. This can be inferred from the sex-ratio, which is an important demographic indicator to study socio-economic characteristics of population. The sex ratio (Number of females per 1000 males) of Delhi is 821( according to 2001 census). The corresponding figure of sex ratio at all-India level is 933. The child sex ratio, which was 945 girls in 1991, has fallen to 927 in 2001. Clearly, our efforts to maintain a balanced sex ratio have met with failure. Neither the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, nor its reincarnation, the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of sex selection acts) Act, 2003, have had any impact.

In Delhi’s ultra well-to-do locality of West Delhi, the child sex ratio is a shocking 784, as against 848 in 1991 and 830 in 2001, as reported by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in 2004. We were at the second position in sex ratios in 1994, and have fallen to 4th position in 2001. It has been seen that even the richest and the most educated families in West Delhi are obsessed with producing sons and that is leading to decline in female population. It could have grave consequences for the society.

At a time when there are fewer women in the population and more men of the same age group, there is certainly going to be much more demand for women for marriage and this pressure will certainly increase violence against women. Experts say practices such as polyandry — where several men, often brothers, share the same wife are already emerging in areas where there are fewer women. Brides are also now being sold and trafficked by their parents to areas like Haryana and Punjab, where bachelors are being forced to look beyond their own culture and social grouping to find a wife.

It is required that the common man on the road, the head of the family in a middle or an upper-middle class family, the intellectual human rights activist; conscientious citizens from all walks of life need to contribute to curb this menace. As an individual, the most important and effective thing you can do is to influence the attitudes of those around you. Make your friends, relatives and immediate family aware of the girls’ capabilities. Try to make the young girls around you aware of their self-worth, especially the under-privileged ones. Women need to make an effort to reach out to each other through groups, share experiences and give support. Parents should also have an open mindset towards enrolling their children in co-education schools to ensure healthy exposure. Sex education should be imparted at an appropriate age by the parents or guardians themselves.

We can do a lot to raise the sex ratio and ensure a bright future for our girls. We should take a vow to bring up our daughters with equality



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