“As India’s largest religious group, Hindus make up 79.8% of India’s total population and account for a disproportionate share, 86.7%, (78 lakh) of the missing female births,” according to a survey.
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Researchers have used government data to find that 90 lakh girls have been killed in the womb of their mothers in India in the last 20 years. There are more Hindu girls missing than Muslim due to female feticide.
What is most shocking about the figures is that this could be slightly lower than the entire population of Uttarakhand state.
The researchers got their data from the last three rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), including the fifth and latest one (2019-2020). The NFHS is conducted by the Government of India.
The researchers have found that Hindus have done to death 78 lakh female children even before their birth. “As India’s largest religious group, Hindus make up 79.8% of India’s total population and account for a disproportionate share, 86.7%, (78 lakh) of the missing female births,” the report reads.
Muslims account for 14% of the population and were responsible for 6.6% (5.9 lakh) missing female births. Sikhs comprise only 1.7% of the country’s population but contributed 4.9% of ‘missing’ female births (around 4.4 lakh girls). Christians make up 2.3% of the population and accounted for 0.6% (50,000) ‘missing’ births.
The report says, “For a given sex history of births, substantially more sex selection was conducted by families with wealth (top 20%) and relatively educated women (attaining at least secondary education) and, conditional on wealth and education, by Hindus as compared with Muslims.”
The report found that the sex ratio tended towards more males than females among the so-called Hindu ‘upper-caste’ women compared to women of ‘Scheduled Caste’ groups.
These shocking revelations like the killing of female fetuses resulted in a “marriage squeeze”, especially among Sikhs: a shortage of marriageable women. The ‘squeeze’ is also fuelled by the fact that Indian men do not marry outside their caste and religion.
When girls go ‘missing’ in this manner, the male-female ratio in the general population becomes skewed in favor of the males. The sex-ratio could be responsible in part for increases in sex-related violence and crimes and trafficking of women.
India banned prenatal sex-determination testing in the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994. The clandestine use of ultrasound facilities for this purpose continues, however, as do sex-selective abortions. As a result, India’s sex ratio is 105.3 boys per 100 girls.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org