The much-repeated story of families killing a girl child to have a son the next time has a number now.
About 54 per cent of the foetus, aborted in the national Capital and neighbouring Haryana, were of a girl child.
The figures are alarming because Delhi and Haryana have the lowest sex ratio. Delhi has a ratio of 868 girls for every 1,000 boys and Haryana 820, while Punjab comes third with 793. The national figure is 925.
Shantha Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said, “The act of killing a girl child is barbaric. It shows we may look modern but our thinking is still medieval. I demand stronger punishment of those involved in female foeticide.”
The government should conduct social audits of all nursing homes and clinics in Delhi to find out the culprits, she added.
A National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development study, conducted in the lowest sex ratio districts of two states, revealed about 61 per cent of abortions in the two states were conducted in private clinics.
The study said most mothers claimed to have undergone abortions to limit the family size, or for birth spacing, or because of excessive bleeding. But mothers-in-law were more candid, admitting the desire for a son was the probable reason. In most cases, men took the decision to abort the foetus, the study said.
Sex determination of the foetus is either done in private clinics or by midwives using traditional methods. In 15 per cent cases, midwives themselves abort the child.
In most cases, midwives and health workers provided information to the families about abortion clinics. “This points to the fact that abortion services are freely available despite laws in place,” the socio-cultural study on declining sex ratio in two states finalised this week, said.
Surprisingly, seeking the help of midwives was found to be more common in Delhi than in Haryana.
What’s more, Delhi was found to be worse than Haryana when it comes to female foeticide. More abortions, either induced or spontaneous, were reported from Delhi.
The study, based on data collected in October 2007, showed the percentage of abortions increased to 30.8 per cent, 52.9 per cent and 66.7 per cent in second, third and fourth births, respectively, in Delhi, said Shantha Gopalakrishnan, who conducted the study over two years.