Authorities in India are investigating a disturbing trend where mothers in 132 villages have given birth only to baby boys
- Authorities in India say they are investigating why no baby girls have been born in over 100 villages in India's northern district of Uttarkashi in the state of Uttarakhand within the last three months.
- Out of 216 babies born within the last three months in 132 villages in the region, not a single girl birth has been recorded, according to official data.
- Indian families often prefer male children, for reasons including laws which pass property to male heirs, the practice of paying large dowries to a husband's family when women marry.
- Census data from 2011 showed the country had 940 females per 1000 males. India's government has introduced measures in recent years meant to reverse the trend.
- For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.
Authorities in India say they are investigating why no baby girls have been born in over 100 villages in India's northern district of Uttarkashi, in the state of Uttarakhand, within the last three months.
According to official data, out of 216 babies born within the last three months in 132 villages in the region, not a single girl birth has been recorded, India Today reported. In 16 of those villages, no girls have been born in the last six months, it added.
Chief Minister for Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat, said on Monday that he was shocked by the data and ordered a probe into the matter.
State official Ashish Chauhan said the government has identified areas where the number of girls born has been "zero or in single-digit numbers," and said they were being monitored to figure out why.
"A detailed survey and study will be conducted to identify the reason behind it," he said, according to India Today.
Indian families often prefer male children for a number of cultural reasons, including property being passed on to sons over daughters, women moving into their husband's home after marriage, and families having to pay a dowry to propose marriage for their daughter.
Chauhan said a committee had been set up to figure out whether tests to determine the sex of the baby and abortions were being secretly carried out by health facilities in the region.
He added that the government planned to take legal action against families found to have purposely terminated their pregnancy after finding out the sex.
India has taken steps to identify gender-based discrimination
India has acknowledged the prevalence of gender-based discrimination within society and has put laws and programs in place to combat the issue.
India banned the selective abortion of female fetuses in 1994 and imposed fines and prison sentences for those found guilty of violating the law.
Still, the practice remains, particularly in parts of the country that hold more traditional gender views.
Last year, the Indian government noted in a report on gender parity that 63 million women were statistically "missing" from India's population due the societal desire to have a son over a daughter.
Over 21 million girls have also been considered "unwanted" by their families, who continue to have children until a son is born, the report added.
Census data from 2011 showed the country had 940 females per 1000 males. The gender imbalance has led men to outnumber women in India, as well as China, by 70 million, the Washington Post revealed last year, creating imbalances in the labor market, increases in violent crime, and a society of bachelors with a steadily diminishing dating pool.
In addition, roughly 239,000 girls under the age of five die in India every year due to gender-based neglect, according to a 2018 study.
"Gender-based discrimination towards girls doesn't simply prevent them from being born, it may also precipitate the death of those who are born," the study's co-researcher Christophe Guilmoto wrote, according to CNN.
In response to the Census data, India has introduced measures in recent years to increase awareness and improve welfare services aimed at girls.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi set up a campaign called Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana," which translates to "Save the daughter, educate the daughter," to address the female population decline and prevent gender-biased abortions from taking place.
The program has introduced awareness campaigns to prevent female infanticide and provided funding for education and health programs to support young girls.
"Let us celebrate the birth of the girl child," Modi told to villagers of Jayapur in the state of Uttar Pradesh when discussing the program.
"We should be equally proud of our daughters. I urge you to sow five plants when your daughter is born to celebrate the occasion."
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