Published: Thu, February 01, 2018
Sci-tech | By Javier West

India's 'son preference' leaves 21 million girls 'unwanted,' 63 million 'missing'

India's 'son preference' leaves 21 million girls 'unwanted,' 63 million 'missing'

Following the survey, officials reported that over 60 million women were statistically "missing" all across India and another 21 million girls were reportedly "unwanted" by their families.

"Indian parents often continue to have children till they have the desired number of sons", said the study. A lot of daughters are born during this process, too. In addition, authorities estimate that anor 21 million of girls-in a country with a total population of 1.324 billion-are not wanted by ir families at birth as y have to bear economic burden of a practice atavistic as dowry.

Compared to the global average of natural "sex ratio at birth" now at 1.05 (105 males for every 100 females) based on World Health Organisation figures, the sex ratio in India is heavily skewed in favor of males, with slight changes with each born child.

"The challenge of gender is long-standing, probably going back millennia, so all stakeholders are collectively responsible for its resolution", the report's authors write.

The huge number of "unwanted girls" is a direct result of the "son meta preference" where parents do not stop having children until they have the desired number of sons.

Cathal McNaughton / Reuters A young girl sells balloons by the Yamuna River on the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Delhi, India, on September 15, 2016.

"Kerala does not seem to practise sex-selective abortions (since their sex ratios at birth are close to the biological benchmark) but indicates some son "meta" preference (skewed SRLC)".

The sex ratio for different states in India worsened even as incomes improved.

According to the World Health Organisation, the natural "sex ratio at birth" is considered to be 1.05.

In 1970, the SRB was 1060 males per 1000 females.

But a more severe effect is sex-selective abortion, even though the practice is illegal. It also indicated that 2 million women go "missing" across age groups every year because of abortion of female fetuses, disease, neglect and inadequate nutrition.

Chapter Seven of the survey tabled in the Parliament on Monday deals with gender equality and showed that while the country has improved in women's empowerment, its preference for sons over daughters has not diminished. A son "meta" preference - even though it does not lead to sex-selective abortion - may nevertheless be detrimental to female children because it may lead to fewer resources devoted to them, the survey said.

Mukesh Gupta / Reuters A school girl gets her face painted in the colors of India's national flag before taking part in the country's Republic Day celebrations in Jammu on January 25, 2018.

A preference for sons will manifest itself in the SRLC being heavily skewed in favour of boys.

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