As law crawls, Maharashtra sex ratio drops more
According to the Sample Registration System (SRS) data available with the office of Registrar General, the sex ratio at birth shows that at the national level it has increased from 892 girls per 1000 boys in 2001-03 to 904 in 2006-08. However, the trends and levels of sex ratio at birth vary from state to state. In Maharashtra, for instance, from 887 girls per 1000 boys in 2001-2003 it went down marginally to 884 in 2006-08.
As per global trends, the child sex ratio should be more than 950 girls per 1000 boys. A sex ratio at birth of 880-900 implies that 50-70 girls are missing out of the expected 952 girls for every 1000 boys, says Dr P M Kulkarni, professor of demography at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. In his analysis of the estimation of missing girls at birth and juvenile ages, Kulkarni says the sex ratio at birth in the country for 2006-08 was 904 while the internationally observed normal sex ratio at birth is 952 or more girls per 1000 boys. Hence, it is estimated that the practice of prenatal sex selection has resulted in an approximate 6 lakh girls missing annually in the country from 2001-07. This is roughly 1,600 girls per day, he points out.
The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act was first enacted in 1994 and amended in 2003. It provides for imprisonment which may extend to three years and a fine up to Rs 30,000. The law suffers from bottlenecks in implementation, admits Dr Prakash Doke, Executive Director of Maharashtra State Health Systems Resource Centre (SHSRC).