Of the 9,053 suicide cases registered in the state during 2004, 27 per cent were those of women, the survey, presented in the state assembly, stated. Family problems, diseases, insanity and bankruptcy were the major causes identified for the suicides. The maximum number of 2,028 (22.4 per cent) cases reported were due to family problems, followed by diseases with 1,440 (15.9 per cent) and insanity/mental illness 1,381 (15.3 per cent). However, dowry-related incidents were comparatively very low. It said the present suicide rate in the state was 27 per lakh population, which was three times higher than the national average.
The Economic Review also points out that there had been a persistent increase in the number of crimes against women in the state since 1991. From 1,867 cases reported in 1991 it peaked at 7,743 in 1999 to come down to 7,681 last year. Though the people were well educated and literate, instances of ill-treatment by husbands and relatives were increasing alarmingly. As per the data published, the largest number of 3,222 (41.95 per cent) crimes against women involved cruelty by husbands and relatives, followed by molestation with 2,260 (29.42 per cent). As these two categories of offences constitute 71 per cent of the total crimes against women, the review said it posed a serious social concern in the state. However, dowry-related harassment cases in the literate state were only 31 (0.4 per cent).
Regarding the literacy rate, 87.86 per cent of women in the state were literate, 33 per cent above the national average of 54.16 per cent. The growth rate of female literacy rate was 1.69 per cent (1991-2001) as against the male literacy growth rate of 0.58 per cent. The gender gap in literacy rate which was 7.45 during 1991, declined to 6.34 per cent in 2001, reflecting a fall of 1.11 per cent. In the education sector, it said the status of women in the state was much above the all India average. Girls constituted 49.07 per cent of the total enrolment in school education, which was very near to the male-female birth ratio. Out of 48.42 lakh students enrolled in schools in 2004-05, 49.07 per cent students were girls.
The percentage of girl students to total students enrolled in lower primary, upper primary and second levels were 49.52, 48.41 and 49.14 respectively during 2004-2005. Regarding the teaching manpower in schools, the statistics of Directorate of Public Instruction 2005 showed that women outnumbered men, constituting 69 per cent of teaching staff in Lower Primary, Upper Primary, High school and ITI institutions. Their health status was also higher than in other parts of the country, the report said.
Due to higher health awareness, 93 per cent deliveries in Kerala took place in health institutions. The female infant mortality in the state was lower than that of the male. Even though mortality rate for under-five years had declined significantly since 1991, the juvenile sex ratio increased to 958 per 1000 population from 954 but it declined from 933 to 927 at all India level.