NEW DELHI – The latest report released on ‘Against My Will State of World Population’ by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shows a grim picture of women safety in India. It says 46 million women go missing in the country every year while 4.6 lakh are killed pre-natally due to gender-biased sex selection (GBSS).
According to the report released on Tuesday, 142.6 million females are missing in the whole world in which majority of them are from two big Asian countries, India and China. The missing females mean those women who are missing from the population at given dates due to the cumulative effect of postnatal and prenatal sex selection in the past.
The report says the GBSS accounts for two-thirds of the total missing girls and post-birth female mortality for about one-third in India. From 2013 to 2017, around 460,000 girls were missing at birth every year.
The report noted that across the world, women are harmed in three big ways: “widespread harmful practices are female genital mutilation, child marriage and son preference”.
“Every day, hundreds of thousands of girls around the world are subjected to practices that harm them physically or psychologically, or both, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities,” the report highlighted.
India has the highest rate female deaths, 13.5 per 1,000 female births is India, which suggests that an estimated one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 may be attributed to postnatal sex selection.
According to the report, the sex ratio at birth during 2016-2018 was a dismal 899 girls for every 1,000 boys and the ratio fell below 900 in nine Indian states including Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Bihar. This has created a demographic imbalance as many men may need to delay or forgo marriage because they will be unable to find spouse.
Speaking on the grim situation due to the GBSS in the country, UNFPA India representative, Argentina Matavel, said “Son preference and gender-biased sex selection have resulted in over 142 million girls missing globally and 46 million girls missing in India. This reality is grim and unacceptable and needs to change immediately”.
“Change can only come about by transforming unequal power relations, structures and norms to ensure value for women and girls. We need to move towards a world based on principles of equality, autonomy, and choice,” she adds.
According to the report, the people with higher incomes in the urban area are more able to use pre-natal sex-selective procedures as the expensive technologies required to carry out such procedures. However, it may spread gradually due to the advent of technology.