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Sex ratio at birth drops in Maharashtra, sizeable dip in several districts: NFHS-5

🔴 A skewed sex ratio at birth shows a strong preference for male child and continued sex-selective practices in the country, the Population Foundation of India has said.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: November 27, 2021 8:01:14 am
Sex ratio at birth drops in Maharashtra, sizeable dip in several districts: NFHS-5Across Maharashtra, the sex ratio at birth in urban areas has declined to 878 girls/1000 boys. (Express File/Vishal Srivastav)

Pune has seen a 54-point decline in sex ratio at birth, according to the the fifth round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). Another 17 districts in Maharashtra have shown a sizeable dip in sex ratio at birth, according to NFHS-5 data.

Overall, the sex ratio at birth in Maharashtra has dipped by 11 points and is now at 913 girls/1000 boys. In the last survey five years ago, the sex ratio at birth was 924 girls/1000 boys.

A skewed sex ratio at birth shows a strong preference for male child and continued sex-selective practices in the country, the Population Foundation of India has said. In its statement, the NGO has urged the government to invest in girls’ education and make efforts towards increasing the value of the girl child.

Across Maharashtra, the sex ratio at birth in urban areas has declined to 878 girls/1000 boys. Pune, however, has registered a 54-point decline. As against 927 girls/1000 boys in the 2015-16 (NFHS-4), the recent survey has noted that the sex ratio of children born in the last five years was 873 girls/1000 boys.

The districts of Pune, Hingoli, Aurangabad, Bhandara, Mumbai (suburban), Beed, Jalgaon, Jalna and other districts have also shown a significant decline in sex ratio at birth, with the ratio dropping lower than 900 girls/1000 boys in some districts.

Aurangabad has shown a decline in sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years at 875/1000 boys, as against the last survey where the sex ratio at birth was 1,130/1000 boys.

Sex ratio at birth has also dropped in Bhandara, from 1204 girls/1000 boys to 897 girls/1000 boys, Beed (843 girls/1000 boys as against 1046 girls/1000 boys) Hingoli (838 girls/1000 boys as against 992 girls /1000 boys in the last survey), Jalgaon (857/1000 boys as against 922/1000 boys) and Jalna (867 girls/1000 boys as against 880 girls /1000 boys).

However, districts such as Amravati (1090 girls/1000 boys), Buldhana (1,036 girls/1000 boys), Gadchiroli (1,098 girls/1000 boys), Dhule (919 girls/1000 boys), Osmanabad (1,050 /1000 boys) and others have shown a rise in sex ratio at birth.

Gondia, Kolhapur and Latur are also among districts which have noted a rising trend. However, Nagpur, Mumbai Suburban, Nanded, Nandurbar, and Nashik have seen a decline in sex ratio at birth.

NFHS -5 fieldwork for Maharashtra was conducted from June to December, 2019, by the Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR).

When contacted, Dr Archana Patil, state director of health, told The Indian Express that different data sources indicate different figures. “As per civil registration system data, sex ratio at birth is improving. Also, the state supervisory committee’s meeting is expected to be held every six months,” said Dr Patil.

Advocate Varsha Deshpande, who is a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee for implementing the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act, alleged that this issue was neglected during the pandemic. “There has been no meeting of the state supervisory board for PC-PNDT Act for the last two years,” she claimed.

Deshpande, who has been tracking convictions against doctors for flouting rules of the PC-PNDT Act, pointed out that several accused have been acquitted in the sessions court. “We raised this issue, following which the state has now appointed a committee for reviewing cases that were not fit for appeal,” she said.

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