India Has 21 million ‘Unwanted’ Girls Because Families Prefer Sons: Economic Survey
The utmost yearning of Indian couples to have a boy child is not a new phenomenon. Since ages, boy are perceived as “kul ka deepak” and this mindset is prevalent even in contemporary times. The Economic Survey 2017-18 by the government estimated that India has about 21 million unwanted girls. The occurrence of unwanted girl child panned out as a result of parents’ persistent desire to have a son. Many couples keep having children until they reproduce a boy.
Economic Survey 2017-2018 published on 29 January, 2018 spills some unfortunate truth about gender bias in our country. The survey was led by the chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian. “Families where a son is born are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born. This is suggestive of parents employing ‘stopping rules’,” said the survey as reported by The Telegraph. Stopping Rules refers to cessation of the desire to having more children when a son a born.
According to the survey, the son is a “meta” preference as a result of which India could have about 21 million unwanted girls i.e. girls who were not preferred by their parents. The sex ratio of the last child (SRLC) indicated in favour of boys which means India has an apparent preference for sons.
According to the World Health Organisation, the natural sex ratio at birth is 1.05 which means for every 100 female there are 105 males.
In India, women are under the pressure to produce an heir for the family lineage. On the other hand, girls are looked at as burden to pay dowry.
Despite gender-based abortions being illegal, it is practiced unchecked across the country. According to many surveys and studies, illegal sex selection is run unrestrained by several medical professionals and nursing homes. In India, up to 12 million girls were reportedly aborted in the last three decades.
The Logical Indian believes that such rampant gender bias in this country is a matter of absolute shame. In the era where women have proved their might on all fronts, they still have to face such abhorred discrimination. This points at our overtly diminutive and regressive mindsets. Last year in November, The Global Gender Gap Report 2017 was released by The World Economic Forum (WEF). India slipped 21 places from last year’s ranking of 87.
Gender equality will be achieved only with a change in our mindsets and a more inclusive – cultural, political, religious, social, academic and economic – environment for women.