According to data released by National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the artificially high ratio of baby boys to baby girls developed in India in the 1970s as a result of the use of prenatal diagnostic technology to facilitate sex-selective abortions now appears to be decreasing.
The sex ratio at birth in India, which was roughly 111 boys per 100 girls in the 2011 census, has since narrowed to about 109 in the 2015–16 National Family Health Survey wave and to 108 boys in the most recent wave of the NFHS, which was performed from 2019–21.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from multiple waves of the NFHS and India’s census, at least 9.0 million (0.9 crores) female births went “missing” because of female-selective abortions between 2000 and 2019, despite the fact that it has been illegal in India since 1996 for doctors and other medical professionals to reveal the sex of a fetus to the prospective parents.
The average annual number of baby girls reported as “missing” in India decreased from around 480,000 (4.8 lakh) in 2010 to 410,000 (4.1 lakh) in 2019, according to the Center’s data, to put the recent reduction in sex selection into perspective.
What Has Been The Scenario Of ‘Son Bias’ In India?
Naturally, there are somewhat more boys than girls at birth, with 105 male infants to every 100 female infants. That was the ratio in India in the 1950s and 1960s, before nationwide access to prenatal sex tests was made possible.
The situation remained the same as the amniocentesis-based prenatal gender tests were uncommon and expensive in the 1970s. It is in the 1980s since Gender testing expanded in popularity when ultrasound technology was first developed.
In India, abortion was made legal in 1971. Once prenatal testing allowed Indian families to learn the sex of a fetus during pregnancy, sex selection took off. The sex ratio at birth increased quickly, rising from 105 boys per 100 girls before 1970 to 108 in the early 1980s, 110 in the 1990s, and then remaining at that level for about 20 years.
What Are The Factors Behind ‘Daughter Aversion’ In India?
After Azerbaijan, China, Armenia, Vietnam, and Albania, India has one of the most skewed sex ratios at birth during the two decades between 2000 and 2020, according to a Pew Research Center examination of United Nations statistics.
Son preference, also known as “daughter aversion,” is a type of gender bias that occurs when families choose to have males over daughters for monetary, cultural, or religious reasons.
Son preference in India may be related to cultural norms that make raising daughters more expensive than raising sons. Hindu sons are supposed to carry out the last rites for departed parents, including lighting the funeral pyre and scattering their ashes, as per Indian tradition, which dictates that only sons can carry on the family name and lineage. Because men typically predominate in inheritance lines, sons have also been a tool for families to protect inherited property (even though most Indian inheritance laws now prohibit gender discrimination).
According to the latest data, Indian families are less likely to perform abortions in order to guarantee the birth of sons rather than daughters. This comes after years of government initiatives to stop sex selection, such as the ban on prenatal sex testing and a significant ad campaign urging parents to “save the female kid,” and it also corresponds with broader social changes like more affluence and education.