New Delhi – The latest figures released by Census 2001 dispel the belief that poverty is responsible for gender-biased abortions and show that the poor treat girls better than the rich.
The Census 2001 statistics reveal that the child sex ratio between the age group of 0 to six years in slum areas of 26 states is 919 girls compared to 904 girls for 1,000 males in "non-slum areas" inhibited by fairly well-off people. Incidentally, in 13 states and Union Territories, the child sex ratio in slum areas is above 943, which is above the average national figure. The data also shows that the girl child is treated better in rural India as compared to urban India.
The "slum data" released by the Census covers 640 cities and towns in 26 states and Union Territories. "Slum enumeration blocks" were formed for the first time for the 2001 Census. As per census records, six million children reside in slums and constitute 16.4 per cent of the child population in these states.
According to reports, technology, particularly pre-natal sex determination tests, is responsible for lower girl child numbers in urban non-slum areas. The child sex ratio is above 950 in slum areas in Chennai, Patna, Nagpur and Nashik.
In Rajasthan, the child sex ratio in rural areas is 914 compared to 887 in urban areas. Also, the rate of cases of selective abortions is higher in Rajasthan’s non-slum areas compared to slum areas. The child sex ratio in Rajasthan’s slum areas is 902 compared to 886 in non-slum areas. A similar situation prevails in the Northeast states, some of which have matriarchal societies.
For instance, in Meghalaya the child sex ratio in slum areas stands at 982 and is 967 in non-slum areas. Rural Meghalaya has a child sex ratio of 973 compared to 969 in urban areas.
The story in the national capital is the same. Slum-dwellers in Delhi care for their daughters more than Delhites living in the concrete jungle. The child sex ratio in Delhi’s non-slum areas is 859 compared to 919 in slum areas. In rural Uttar Pradesh, the child sex ratio is 921 compared to 890 in urban areas. However, in this particular state, the non-slum areas fare better.
The child sex ratio in non-slum areas is 892 compared to 877 in slum areas. The story is similar in West Bengal where the child sex ratio in rural Bengal is higher than in urban areas: 963 compared to 948 in urban areas. The child sex ratio in non-slum areas of urban Bengal is 949 compared to 944 in slum areas.
By Archana Jyoti, September 3, 2005, A.S.G