NEW DELHI: The alarming fall in Delhi’s child sex ratio was initially brought to the fore by Census 2001, but 10 years on, the provisional data for Census 2011 released in April suggests that all government efforts to crack down on unauthorized sex determination clinics and dispel gender stereotypes have come a cropper.
The significant decline in child sex ratio in nearly four districts of the capital and an overall dip from 868:1000 in 2001 to 866:1000 in 2011 is not surprising as the state government’s own data suggests a laxity in reining in the violators.
In the past 10 years, only 61 cases have been registered for various violations under the Preconception & Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994 and a widespread crackdown on violators seems a far cry.
On Wednesday, Delhi’s health minister Dr AK Walia reviewed the implementation of the PCPNDT Act. Taking in consideration the decline in sex ratio, Walia has now ordered that all pending cases registered under the Act must be cleared at the earliest. He has also directed the department to sensitise the prosecutors who carry out inspections in the field to crackdown on ultrasound clinics indulging in illegal testing. He has sought to enhance the vigil on clinics that only carry out ultrasound and have just one machine so that they don’t carry the machine to other places to carry out sex determination tests.
Of the 61 cases registered under PCPNDT Act, 40 relate to complaints for non-registration of clinics, nine for advertising sex determination tests and five for poor maintenance of records by ultrasound clinics. There were only five cases pertaining to complaints related to sex determination. Two cases were filed by private complainants. Out of these cases, six were withdrawn and 12 dismissed, disposed of and the accused acquitted. At present, 43 cases are under trial. This is the latest data made available to activists from the Centre for Advocacy and Research by the Delhi government’s health department.
After going through the annual statistics on the cases registered under PCPNDT Act in 2002-03, activists from an NGO found that the Census 2001 figures did propel authorities into action. Effort was made to check violators and nearly 36 cases were filed. But the drive ran out of steam and, in the subsequent years, not more than six cases were registered in a year. This is a negligible figure when measured against the large number of ultrasound clinics sprouting in the city, many still unregistered, according to NGOs.
The further dip in child sex ratio – 836 females per 1000 males in Census 2011 from an already poor tally of 846 females per 1000 males in 2001 in southwest district – is an indication of the gravity of the issue.
The provisional data of Census 2011 shows a substantial fall in the sex ratio in the New Delhi, south and north districts and an overall decline in the child sex ratio ranging from 10 to 14 points between 2001 and 2011. These districts have many upscale colonies and a significant upper-middle-class presence. Not much seems to have come of the state government’s schemes for the girl child.
The districts of west, northwest, east and northeast have shown an improvement in the sex ratio from 2001. These districts are densely populated and are made up of a large segment of lower middle and poor classes living in slums, unauthorized and resettlement colonies.