21 million Indian girls are 'unwanted'

21 million Indian girls are 'unwanted'

India's continued preference to have male over female children has resulted in an environment unfair for many growing Indian daughters, a new study has revealed.

"In some sense, once born, the lives of women are improving but society still appears to want fewer of them to be born", the authors write. "In Kerala, there'll be same number of couples who continue to have children till they get a girl child, if their first children are boys". After sex selection was declared illegal in India in 1994, the sex ratio at birth (SRB) began to stabilise in India. Consider for instance, that the ratio of women taking up paid work has fallen from 39.5% to 39% between 2005-06 and 2015-16, marking India out as an outlier in this area. The skewed ratio crosses socioeconomic classes.

The survey finds that in the Northeastern state of Meghalaya, the sex ratio at birth and the SRLC were both close to the benchmark. "Within India, there is significant heterogeneity, with the North-Eastern states (a model for the rest of the country) consistently out-performing others and not because they are richer; hinterland states are lagging behind but the surprise is that some southern states do less well than their development levels would suggest", it is stated. "This ratio drops to 1.55 for the second child for families that have exactly two children and so on", it said. Comparing it with the sex ratio of families where the last child is not a male, it stands at 1.07, 0.86, 0.85, 0.84, 0.88 respectively.

There are 21 million "unwanted" girls in India due to parents favoring having sons instead of daughters, new government figures show.

The historic preference of Indian society for male Children has led to a powerful demographic imbalance.

While more women are educated, employed and earning than 10 years ago, they still do not have control over their earnings and childbirth.

As per the Economic Survey, women's employment has also declined over chronological time, and to a much greater extent, in development time. The survey shows that obligation for wife to leave family home after marriage - and resulting loss of a salary - along with property inheritance laws or marital dowry are some of social factors that determine Male preference.

The Survey acknowledges that Government's "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" and "Sukanya Samridhi Yojana" schemes, and mandatory maternity leave rules are all steps in the right direction, pointing out that measures such as increasing maternity leave will offer support to women in the workforce.

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