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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

‘No girl child birth’ claim on Uttarkashi village may have been misread

Chauhan said many villages in the region were thinly populated, and, therefore, saw the births of only one child in the three-month period.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2019 05:25 IST
Suparna Roy
Suparna Roy
Purola/Saundari
No girl child was born in 133 villages in Uttarkashi.
No girl child was born in 133 villages in Uttarkashi.(HT Photo)
         

Uttarkashi grabbed the headlines this week after local data showed that no girl child was born in 133 villages in the district in the past three months, prompting Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to order a probe.

But the ground reality appears to be different with local authorities arguing that the data was misinterpreted and taken out of context,

Uttarkashi district magistrate Ashish Chauhan said while it was true that 133 villages showed no girl child birth in three months, another 129 villages showed no birth of male children during the same period — indicating there was no specific gender bias.

Chauhan said many villages in the region were thinly populated, and, therefore, saw the births of only one child in the three-month period. He added that 166 villages recorded the birth of a single child — 78 saw a boy being born and 88 recorded the birth of a girl child.

“This is basically a misinterpretation or mis-analysis of the data....because of the confusion in the data, we have decided to conduct a re-verification by district-level officers in places where the gap is high. The officials will submit the report to us by the end of this week and then a final number will be released,” added Chauhan.

DP Joshi, chief medical officer of Uttarkashi district, said that there was an error in analysing the data, and said that when the district was considered as a single unit, the sex ratio [a measure of the number of women per 1,000 men] was 1024 women per 1000 males -- higher than the national average of 933 women per 1000 men.

“Uttarkashi has a good sex ratio with 1,024 females for 1000 males. Overall if we see then there was a problem in analysis of the data, as the sex ratio is good. This is an administrative fault, and we are looking into why this happened,” said the chief medical officer. On Wednesday he conducted an inspection in Chinyalisaur block to confirm the local birth trends.

Chauhan said he was trying to monitor the sex ratio at a village level .

In Saundari village, Shaila Devi (43), Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker, said, “No cases of abortion or female foeticide has been reported from this area in over five-six years now.”

ASHA workers report pregnancies to hospitals and take care of pregnant ladies. “Everyone here understands that female foeticide or determination of sex is a crime,” she added.

The residents of villages from areas categorized as red zones, where the percentage of birth of girl children is reported to be less than 25%, say they welcome both genders equally into their homes.

“I have four girls and I am giving proper education to all of them. It is by God’s grace that we got daughters, why would we discriminate between boys and girls?” said Ramkala Devi (40), a housewife from Saundari village in Purola block of the district, which is classified as a red zone by the district administration’s report.

Roshni Rawat (31) from Saundari village who has a five-year-old son and is expecting her second child said, “Be it girl or boy, we only pray that the child is healthy and happy.”

Saroj Sarpal (42), who had come for a check-up at the Community Health Centre in Purola, said, “There isn’t an ultrasound machine here for normal check-up to know whether the child in the womb is healthy or not, so determination of sex is far-fetched in such a scenario.”

This year from April-July, 43 male and 45 female newborns were reported from Purola CHC. From April 2018-March 2019, 226 male and 224 female newborns were reported from the same hospital. There is an ultrasound machine at the Community Health Centre in Naugaon block, which has also been declared a red zone, but it is available to patients only twice a week.

At Naugoan CHC, 88 male and 122 female newborns have been reported between January 2019-June 2019, informed the medical superintendent of the hospital.

The data for July had not been compiled yet.

Speaking about the chances of sex determination and female foeticide still taking place in the block, Deepa Rawat, constable at Naugaon police station who is pregnant herself, said, “Doctors at government hospitals never go for abortions, and private practitioners are not available here. People anyway do not differentiate between girls and boys here.”

In these villages, people said that a high rate of migration and low population could cause skewed statistics.

A senior doctor at the Naugaon CHC who did not wish to be named said, “There are 184 villages that come under this CHC, and not all villages record multiple deliveries every year. This year, most of the deliveries that have been reported from this hospital have involved mothers who gave birth to their first child. Families anyway do not abort their first child...”

Locals say that couples in these villages are more likely to keep having children till they have a boy child rather than go for adoption or kill the female child.

First Published: Jul 24, 2019 23:59 IST

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