Tamil Nadu showed marginal improvement in child sex ratio in the past decade, but Cuddalore and Ariyalur districts recorded a drastic reduction in the figures, according to a study by Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA).
The decline in the ratio in Cuddalore was a post-Tsunami factor where several families lost male children. Their desperation for a male child led many to commit female foeticide, according to Jeeva, a core team member of CASSA. Similarly, absence of a proper monitoring system on female infanticide and foeticide in Cuddalore and Ariyalur districts also resulted in the decrease, Jeeva added.
In Cuddalore, the CSR had come down from 957 in 2001 to 895 in 2011 while in Ariyalur, it was down from 949 to 892. In both districts, more child deaths were reported in rural areas. The ratio in rural Cuddalore was down to 878 from 957, while in rural Ariyalur, it was down to 890 from 946.
“During informal discussions with women in Cuddalore, they revealed that many lost their male child in the tsunami. Desperate for a male child, many women reportedly consumed pills to abort the female foetus,” said A Gandhimathi, state committee member of CASSA. She, however, added that these were observations recorded during informal conversations with the community and required to be verified through studies.
Bringing in another dimension to the issue, P Phavalam, former convener of CASSA, said that a proper monitoring system played a major role in maintaining CSR. For instance, female infanticide and foeticide, which had been high in 2001 in the four infamous districts of Theni, Namakkal, Salem, and Dharmapuri, had come down drastically in 2011 due to proper monitoring.
In Theni, the CSR improved from 891 to 937; in Nammakkal, from 889 to 913; in Salem, from 851 to 917 and in Dharmapuri, from 826 to 911. “We achieved this improvement in these district mainly due to campaigns carried out by the Government jointly with the NGOs,” said Phavalam.
In the case of other districts, the government was under the illusion that there was no female infanticide or foeticide and had not created proper monitoring system, said Jeeva.
In many parts of the state, scan centres were helping pregnant women in determining the sex of the foetus. That was one of the reasons why the CSR in TN had not gone above 970. “As per government standards, the CSR should be at least 970 girls for 1,000 boys, but in the entire state, except for Thoothukudi, it has not touched 970,” pointed out Jeeva.
Tamil Nadu has recorded a CSR of 946 female children for every 1,000 male children in 2011 as against 942 in 2001.