Finding the data on missing girls -Sabu M George

-The Hindu

The figure quoted by the government fails to completely take into consideration deliveries in private hospitals.

Female foeticide continues to increase at an alarming rate, as per the Sample Registration System (SRS) data released in July for the period 2015-2017. The sex ratio at birth (SRB) has been dropping continuously since Census 2011, coming down from 909 girls per thousand boys in 2011-2013 to 896 girls in 2015-2017, to quote the yearly SRS Statistical Reports. In the 2014-2016 period, of the 21 large States, only two — Kerala and Chhattisgarh — had an SRB of above 950 girls per 1000 boys. Thus at present, about 5% of girls are ‘eliminated’ before they are born, despite the promises of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme.

Taking into consideration the SRS estimates, the Niti Aayog acknowledged the seriousness of the problem in its latest report. However, despite all the officially acknowledged facts, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani claimed in the Lok Sabha that SRB has improved from 923 to 931 girls. She was quoting data from the Health Management Information System (HMIS), a fundamentally flawed source that largely considers home deliveries and births in government institutions. Data from the HMIS are incomplete and not representative of the country as a whole as births happening in private institutions are under-reported. The HMIS report itself acknowledges that based on the estimated number of births, the number of reported births is much less in both the years considered — 2015-16 and 2018-19.

Points of delivery

The differences among the three points of delivery become evident when SRB is calculated using data from National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4). Of the 2.5 lakh reported births in the 2010-2014 period, the distribution of births at home, government hospitals and private hospitals was 21%, 52% and 27% respectively and the corresponding SRB figures were 969, 930 and 851.

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The Hindu, 2 August, 2019, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/finding-the-data-on-missing-girls/article28787720.ece?homepage=true

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