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Declining sex ratio is a 'silent emergency'
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April 28, 2008 12:55 IST
Last Updated: April 28, 2008 12:56 IST

Noting that the problem of declining sex ratio was acute in richer states of the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Monday said India was living with the 'ignominy' of an adverse gender balance.

"The last census showed a declining sex ratio. Multiple deprivations all with roots in the oppressive structure of patriarchy has resulted in a bias against girls and women. This is a shame and we must face the challenge squarely," he said, inaugurating the National Meeting on 'Save The Girl Child'.

He asserted that no nation, society or community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilised world if it condones the practice of discrimination against one half of humanity.

"We are an ancient civilisation and we call ourselves a modern nation. And yet, we live with the ignominy of an adverse gender balance due to social discrimination against women," he said.

"The census figures illustrate that it is some of the richer states of the country where the problem is most acute such as Punjab, which has only 798 girls, Haryana 819, Delhi 868 and Gujarat 883 girls per 1,000 boys," he said.

The prime minister said this indicates that growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in the problem.

"We must overcome the problem through social awareness and strict enforcement of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques Act. I earnestly urge all concerned to put an end to this practice adopted by misuse of otherwise life saving technology," he added.

Assuring the government's commitment towards any action plan that is developed towards checking the adverse sex ratio, Dr Singh said: "Let the Ministry of Health focus on orienting the million plus elected representatives of the panchayats and urban local bodies and use them as the medium for fighting this practice."

"There has to be greater focus on female literacy because the adverse sex ratio that we have today has to be challenged in the minds of our people," he said.

The prime minister emphasised on the need for concerted multi-pronged societal action to address the several contributing factors in the predicament of the girl child.

"We need to mobilise leaders of civil society, particularly the religious leaders, for a nationwide campaign for ending all types of discrimination against women built into our societal structures," he said.

Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Choudhry described the declining sex ratio as a 'silent emergency'.

"It is the educated and the elite who are carrying on the practice. It is also putting a physical pressure on women who are made to give birth to several children in pursuit of a male child," she said.

Today, we have a situation which is called the marriage squeeze, she said adding sexual frustration and even incidents of road rage were manifestations of the inability of men to find wives due to the declining sex ratio.

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