Gender Discrimination and Sex-Ratio Imbalance: A Qualitative Analysis
The article strives to engage with the notion of gender discrimination at birth. It critically examines the various trends in the Sex Ratio at Birth in order to explore the intensification of its masculinization. Gender- biased sex selection or the practice of sex determination followed by sex-selective abortion in India is considered to be the main reason for this masculinization. Decennial Census since 1991 has shed light on this through its child sex ratio data. Other survey data which capture this include the National Family Health Survey. Scholars, policy-makers, demographers and health practitioners have closely examined this form of discrimination by delving into both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The government of India has unfurled many policies, programmes and laws to counter this imbalance. However, the ratios continue to reveal severe imbalances with passage of time. Apart from the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection Act) 1994 we have the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme which was initiated in 2014. The scheme is a holistic one bringing about a tri ministerial convergence of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Women and Child Development to work on the issue. The approach of the scheme is a community approach falling largely within the rubric of enabling community health practices and participation. The paper draws on both the trends in the Sex Ratio at Birth and other data enriching it by voices from the field from districts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh where the decline is one of the worst. It contextualizes the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme in this regard in order to arrive at a conclusion of what has improved in terms of numbers as well as attitudes or mindsets. It finally makes suggestions for the way forward in terms of countering gender discrimination at birth and bringing about an egalitarian society by emphasizing on the value of girl-child and women.
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