Assessing The UN Report That States 4,60,000 Girls In India Are Missing At Birth.
The United Nations Population Fund recently released its State of The World Population 2020 report titled, ‘Against My Will: Defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality’. The report of 46 million missing girls at birth in India, out of the total 142 million worldwide, raises questions on the condition, the state of the girl child in India, and a huge loss of girl child population to practices like female foeticide.
The report highlights around 19 acts of human rights violation against women but emphasizes three most prevalent practices, Female Genital Mutilation, Sex selection and extreme bias against the girl child, and Child Marriage. It is a harsh reality to accept that 46 million girls are missing in India. This shows the lack of sensitization in people about equality among the male and the female child. This happens in a country where girls are worshipped as goddesses for their purity and sanity.
India has a history of a skewed sex ratio and the practice of sex selection adds up to the menace. Prenatal sex selection is conducted by sex-selective beta ultrasounds and sex-selective abortion which gives mental pressure to the mother due to the preference for a male child by the family; and in the postnatal stage, the practices include selective infanticide and neglect by the family and parents concerning the nutrition, curative care, vaccine, and abandonment. The data that can shake the conscience of a human being is that 1 among 3 girls missing worldwide is from India; so one can imagine the large scale at which the draconian practices of pre-natal and post-natal sex selection is being practiced in India.
These 4,60,000 girls who were reported missing at birth shows the horrifying fact that these girls were not born due to the grave sex selection bias that is practiced in the country. The post-natal selection practiced in India makes the country accountable to the excess female deaths that are at 13.5 per 1000 female births. This data highlights that 1 in 9 girls below the age of five died due to post-natal selection, which shows that the girl child in India is vulnerable to gender bias, severe neglect by the family in terms of nutrients, medical care and selective infanticide.
The biggest factor that is responsible for the skewed sex ration in India is the continuing preference of a son over the daughter, this bias acts as a catalyst in fuelling the Gender Bias and sex selection. It also promotes practices like neglect of the girl child which makes the newborn vulnerable to diseases and leads to increase in the Female Infant Mortality Rate.
Sex selection promotes life-threatening practices like Female Genital Mutilation, extreme preference and bias towards the son and Child Marriage. The report highlights that up to 1.4 million girls are subjected to the harsh practice of Female Genital Mutilation, which is carried by partial or total removal of the external genitalia of a female’s sexual organs.
This practice is mostly done for non-medical reasons, which include narratives like controlling the sexuality of a woman, as it is sometimes said that if parts of the clitoris are not removed, the woman becomes insatiable leading to sex before marriage and infidelity in marriage. In Female Genital Mutilation, when the clitoris is cut, the woman is said to become pure, and it is said that it guarantees virginity till marriage and increases male sexual pleasure.
According to the UNFPA, Female Genital Mutilation makes the woman vulnerable to excess bleeding, cyst infections, problems in urinating, and complications in Childbirth. Female Genital Mutilation is an injurious practice and can harm the health of a girl child, making her vulnerable to a lot of medical complications.
The preference of a son over the daughters has contributed to large-scale sex selection of the girl child and neglect, which contributes to a girl’s death, adding her in the list of missing females. Modern technology and improved medical technical equipment play the worst role in pre-natal sex selection practices. People can access easy and developed ultrasound imaging which can allow the parents to terminate the fetus after knowing the gender. Thus, the number of girls that went missing due to pre-natal sex selection exceeds the number that went missing due to post-natal sex selection practices. The extreme bias against the daughters leads to the problem of a marriage squeeze, which happens when the number of grooms outnumbers the number of brides.
Child marriage is linked to poverty, the geographical location, and the wide-scale urban-rural divide. Marriage squeeze often results in Human Trafficking of little girls, women, and Child Marriages. Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery in disguise; trafficking of young girls and women often results in sexual assault, rape, and forced marriage, making the vulnerable female population subject to cruelty and exploitation.
Child Marriage makes girl children devoid of literacy and fewer choices, it increases the vulnerability of females putting her under the economic, sexual, and legal control of the men. The practices such as Child Marriage, Human Trafficking, female infanticides, Female Genital Mutilation, and preference of son over daughter curb the rights of a girl child and are a huge violation of the Human Rights of a female.