This article was posted by Christian Today/India on Monday, February 6, 2012.
Unfortunately, “top down” legislation is at best extremely ineffective but this is where the most resources will be allocated because laws typically are in-acted to change actions. Just in the last few years, India as legislated 1) birth parent ID, 2) outlawed sex determination in ultrasounds and 3) restricted the adoption fees charged by the agencies to adoptive parents. Without exception, little if any change has occurred toward the killing of girls only the financial cost has increased significantly However, grassroots efforts, like our Prenatal and Newborn Care initiative is having significant impact on changing the cultural attitude of the Indian girl child from one of a liability to one of true value.
Data from the United Nations shows that girls face an overwhelmingly greater risk of mortality than boys in India.
Statistics produced by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs show that India may be the worst place in the world to be born a girl. The case for this bold statement comes from the fact that an Indian girl-child below the age of five is 75 per cent more likely to die than her male counterpart.
The country has the worst gender-based discrepancy in child mortality rates in the world.
India’s situation remains different from that of its South Asian peers, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, where girls’ survival rates are better than boys’.
Globally, overall child mortality is falling, but India and China are not experiencing the same improvements in girls’ mortality occurring in other countries.
Girls are naturally more likely to survive infancy, given the same access to resources as boys. But, female child mortality in India has worsened over the past four decades. By the 2000s, only 56 male children died for every 100 females who died—the average in the developing world is 111 deaths of the boy-child.
In India, boys are favoured over girls, who represent a cost to their families in terms of dowries and weddings.
China, however, fares worse than India when it comes to infant mortality (deaths among children under the age of one). In China, 76 male infants die for every 100 females. While in India, 97 males infants die for every 100 females.
The World’s Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet published by the Population Reference Bureau, presents projections indicating that while China and the rest of the world are expected to improve their skewed sex ratios between now and 2050, India’s will remain constant at 108 boys for every 100 girls. The natural rate is 105 boys for every 100 girls.
The UK’s Telegraph spoke to Ranjana Kumari of the Council for Social Research, who spoke about parents’ own discrimination against their daughters. Indian mothers, she said, breastfeed girls for a shorter length of time than they do boys for fear that extended breastfeeding will speed the age of puberty and the need for an expensive wedding.
Parents also wait longer to seek medical care for their daughters, whose survival is not as important as their sons, particularly in rural India. Experts have also pointed to female infanticide as another problem.
Women and girls make up 60 per cent of the world’s hungry. They are among the first people to go without when food is scarce. This affects their overall health and wellbeing, including immune vulnerability to diseases.
India has the second-largest population in the world. In less than 40 years it will surpass China as the world’s most populous nation with more than 1.6 billion inhabitants. But 900 million people—about 76 per cent of the population—live on less than $2 a day.