Report says, seven million girls go missing in India every decade

New Delhi: A report conducted at Indira Gandhi Government Medical College of Nagpur says, on an average 7 million girls go missing every decade in India. Not only are fewer girls born because of sex-selective abortions but also more girls die in the first five years of birth as a result of neglect.

The natural sex ratio at birth is nearly 1,020 boys born to 1,000 girls. However, it gets balanced out with the slightly raised risk of death in baby boys by the age of six.

As per the report, the newborn death rate (death within 28 days of birth) in India was 41 for boys and 37 for girls per 1,000 live births in 2005-06, with states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttrakhand and Assam registering a fall sharply in the under-5 gender ratio over the past decade because many families invest more effort, time and money to save a sick boy child than a girl, reports HT.

Relatively, a smaller percentage of girl newborns get care:

In 2016, 842,000 newborns were treated in special neonatal care units (SNCUs) across India. Of which 41% of them were girls. There are 662 SNCUs with more than 11,000 beds at the district level to prevent death from low birth weight (below 2.5 kg).

“The smaller percentage of girls is significant because SNCUs are referral units, with most sick babies being treated either being referred from within the hospital or from other hospitals in the vicinity,” says Dr Satish Maravi, paediatrician in-charge of the SNCU at government JP district hospital in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. “If the numbers are low for girls, it’s because parents are not bringing their girl child despite being referred,” he said.

Sabita Baria, 22, with her second child who is a boy suffered birth asphyxia from prolonged labour. Rainbow Children Hospital, a private clinic in Bhopal, charged her Rs 60,000 before referring her son to the JP hospital, where treatment is free. Baria desperately wants the baby to live. “We have a five-year-old girl and have been trying for a boy. I won’t ask God for anything more if my boy lives,” she says, hugging her son in quiet desperation.

Girls fight to survive:

Despite a ban on sex determination techniques such as amniocentesis and sonography since 1994 and 2003, respectively. Some doctors have kept their businesses flourishing by illegally aborting the female foetuses.
The sex ratio has registered a marginal increase to 914 in 2005-06, with Kerala being the most kind to its girls (1,047 girls born to 1,000 boys), followed by Meghalaya (1,009) and Chhattisgarh (977).

Some states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Haryana have registered a significant improvement in the sex ratio. On the other hand, over the past decade, sex ratio at birth dived in Sikkim from 984 to 809, Manipur from 1,014 to 962, Mizoram from 1,025 to 946, Manipur from 1,014 to 962, and Jharkhand from 1,091 to 919, found a 2013 study.

“India newborn action plan 2014 has a goal of attaining single-digit neonatal mortality and stillbirth rates by 2030, with efforts including setting up of SNCUs at the district level, starting birth-defect surveillance in medical colleges, and getting ASHAs (community health workers) to visit one crore newborns at home within 42 days of birth each year,” says a health and family welfare ministry official, who did not wish to be named.