Child sex ratio declining in some districts: study

The child sex ratio (CSR) in some of the districts has been declining over the past three years. Tiruvannamalai and Dharmapuri are among districts that have low CSR, according to a preliminary study done by Samakalvi Iyakkam (SKI), an organisation working for child rights, along with Child Rights and You (CRY).

After a consultation meeting on Tuesday, where the preliminary study on female foeticide done in 10 districts was released, Arivazhagan Rayan, State consultant, SKI, said data on CSR in the 10 districts was collected from the District Health Department under the Right to Information Act, the National Family Health Survey and anganwadi centres. The CSR dropped in Tiruvannamalai district from 924 in 2015-16 to 888 in 2016-17 and in Tiruvallur from 934 during the previous year to 908 in 2016-17.

The research team said there were several inconsistencies in the data based on the information received through RTI. The actual CSR was lesser in districts such as Salem and Dharmapuri.

Anomalies in data

There was also a need to address anomalies in the data provided through RTI and NFHS of 2014-15. According to NFHS data, Ramanathapuram district has the lowest CSR of 732, whereas information obtained through RTI showed that Dharmapuri had the lowest, at 884, among the 10 districts.

“We did not get data for Chennai through RTI. But the information collected from 10 anganwadis in each district revealed that Chennai and Salem had more missing number of newborns compared to pregnant women registered,” he said.

The organisation had also conducted a sample survey among various stakeholders such as panchayat presidents, doctors in primary health centres, district child protection officers and pregnant women in the 10 districts. Nearly 57% of respondents revealed there were instances of female foeticide and 55% of them were not aware of village-level child protection committees. Moreover, 73% of respondents revealed that they preferred male children.

C. Selvakumar, general secretary, SKI, said female foeticide was identified to be prevailing in the State. A State-level study needs to be taken up by the government to identify the exact CSR and eliminate data inconsistencies. The study will be submitted to the government.

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