PUNE: Every year 20 lakh girls are killed even before they are born and in Maharashtra the sex ratio stands at 922, which means for every 1,000 men there is a shortfall of 78 women as per a research study by Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women's Studies Centre at the University of Pune.
The research study, Khudlelya Kaalya, written by senior feminist activist Kalindi Deshpande, stated that the situation was even worse when it came to the juvenile sex ratio (in the age group 0-6 years). In this age group, there were merely 917 girls per 1,000 boys.
Earlier, India always had an adverse sex ratio for women but today due to modern techniques like the sex determination of the child, the girl foetus is terminated before its birth. There was an alarming decrease in the sex ratio in the last 2-3 decades.
Owing to the hyper-visibility of women in urban areas today, there was a general feeling that the situation of women was improving.
But pre-natal diagnostic techniques (PNDT) like amniocentesis, originally meant to detect genetic abnormalities in the foetus, were being used to determine the sex of the foetus, followed by sex selective abortions in case it was a girl. This had led to the huge decrease in the ratio of women, said the study.
The study suggested that stringent implementation of the PNDT Act was essential if this downward trend is to be stemmed. But this was not enough, what was needed urgently was also a change in society's mentality, where there still existed a very strong son preference.
Girls were looked upon as burdens on the family, the son was still cherished as the heir and there was a tendency even among doctors to
facilitate sex selective abortions for money.
The report underlined the complex linkages between misuse of modern technology, globalisation, increasing consumerist culture and women's subordinate status.
It pointed out that a law with many loopholes and lethargic and disinterested administration are responsible for the current state of affairs, along with doctors who are merely motivated by financial gains and a social structure that systemically devalues women.
The report also undertook a review of all cases filed under the PNDT Act so far, observing that most cases are still pending in court.
This phenomenon, where females are not allowed to be born at all, was a serious violation of women's human rights and immediate attention was needed to be paid on the issue.
A first step towards strict implementation of the law would be the strict monitoring by the administrative machinery of the registered sonography clinics on a regular basis. Today, there are attempts to develop techniques, which will allow sex-selection even before pregnancy is initiated.
Avoiding the misuse of such techniques would be a big challenge for the future, the study averred.