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Over 60 million girls missing: Report
October 14, 2005 00:46 IST
In Asia, at least 60 million girls are "missing", according to the State of World Population 2005 report. Strong preference for boys in some countries has led to elimination of millions of girls through prenatal sex selection while baby girls also died through "deliberate neglect and starvation," the report, released in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday, said.
"Discrimination against girls may begin in the womb," the report, brought out by the United National Population Fund, said. It said sex selection in some countries was more common in the cities where technologies such as amnio-centesis and ultrasound were readily accessible and open to misuse. In others, it occurred more commonly in rural areas where the preference for sons was strong. Though governments had banned the practice and passed laws against discrimination and abandonment of girls, the practice had remained deeply rooted, the report said.
"In many places, it is reinforced by the perception that daughters are an economic liability, either because of low expected contributions to family income or large dowry requirements." Sex selection had become a lucrative business for doctors and producers of medical equipment, it commented.
Pointing out that sex ratio at birth was slightly skewed in favour of boys due to biological reasons, the report said that for every 100 girls born, there were normally 103 to 107 boys. However, since boys and men normally had higher mortality rates than girls and women throughout life, in most countries of the world, women outnumbered men. A country's sex balance could be a telling indicator of its social well-being.
"The shortage of women and girls in some Asian countries has potentially alarming social repercussions, including increased demand for trafficking in women, whether for marriage or for sex work, and the worsening of their status overall," the report warned.
Eliminating the practice requires changes in the way girls and women are valued by society, it said adding that in India, UNFPA supported the government in a comprehensive approach that included building media interest, creating community-based networks to advocate against the practice and sensitising health providers and involving youth and other key stakeholders.