Improvement in education and empowerment schemes are the reasons
The sex ratio at birth in Bengaluru has seen a major improvement over the past four years.
The National Family Health Survey-5, conducted in 2019-20, showed the sex ratio at birth for children born in the past five years in Bengaluru to be 1,163 females to 1,000 males. It was 727 females per 1,000 males in 2015-16, when the survey was last conducted.
Nirupama Kumar, a sociologist and sociology lecturer, explained: “Women are getting better education now, and more and more young women are excelling in different professional sectors. This is changing the image society had of the girl.”
“In our society, especially in metro cities like Bangalore, the old, orthodox notions that people had about the girl child are changing. Previously, there used to be a preference for a boy child in Indian families, as they are believed to carry out the ‘lineage’. Though these notions still exist, slowly the beliefs are changing … With the rise of more unconventional families in India, this idea of ‘the man carrying the lineage’ is slowly disappearing,” Kumar added.
This is backed by no cases of female infanticide and foeticide cases being reported. NCRB data show that in 2020, no cases of foeticide or infanticide were reported from Bengaluru. In Karnataka, rate for both infanticide and foeticide was zero last year.
Meenakshi S, an inspector at the Basavanagudi Women’s Police station, informed The Observer: “Yes, cases of female infanticide and foeticide have decreased significantly over the years. For quite some time, no cases of infanticide or foeticide have been reported in my division.”
To curb cases of female foeticide, and to stop the declining sex ratio, the government in 1994 banned sex-determination tests through ultrasound imaging. Under the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, any medical practitioner who is found involved in illegal ultrasound imaging, or any individual who seeks medical aid to undergo a prenatal diagnostic technique, may a jail term that may extend up to three years with a fine of Rs 10,000.
Chethana Mohan, owner of the Janani Maternity Home, Bengaluru, said in an average month, there is rarely any huge disparity between male and female births. “At most, the ratio gets 60: 40. But usually the number is pretty balanced. On some days, the number of girls born is even slightly more, but that is only the natural disparity.”
The central and state governments announced various schemes and policies in the past to check infanticide and female foeticide .
The Karnataka government had a scheme in 2006-07 to promote the birth of girl children in below poverty line families, and to raise the status of the girl child in society. Beneficiaries get health insurance cover up to Rs 25,000 a year and an annual scholarship of Rs 300 to Rs 1,000 up to class X to girls.
A year ago, The Hindu reported that “85.5% people believe there is a changed attitude towards the girl child in society” and that “they are no longer considered a burden”.
Centrally funded schemes targeted at girls include Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Balika Samriddhi Yojana and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.