Gender discrimination remains one problem that needs to be tackled on a large scale in our country. The preference of a boy child over a girl has resulted in a countless number of deaths of girls in the country over the last few years. Now a new study published in Lancet Global Health has revealed some shocking figures. An estimate of 239,000 girls under the age of five die in India each year due to neglect linked to gender discrimination. Almost 2.4 million girls in a decade see death even before they reach the age of 5 years! These figures once again point out to the existing bias between the genders.
The study suggests that many of these deaths are due to neglect, both within their families and from health practitioners, as well as an “invisible, routine and continued” discrimination that girls have to face even in food allocation. It has come to light how girls are discriminated against even in other basic facilities. Indian girls receive less education, have poorer nutrition and get less medical attention than boys do.
For this study, the researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems tabbed the data from UN population data from 46 countries. They found an excess of mortality rate among the girls under the age of 5 in the 29 states out of all 35. They calculated the difference between the expected mortality rate for girls aged under five in areas of the world without gender discrimination and the reality inside India.
The worst affected region in this is the Northern part of India where there is a majority of the rural population practising agriculture. "Gender-based discrimination towards girls doesn't simply prevent them from being born, it may also precipitate the death of those who are born," wrote the study's co-researcher Christophe Guilmoto in the Lancet medical journal. "Gender equity is not only about rights to education, employment or political representation. It is also about care, vaccination, and nutrition of girls, and ultimately survival," he further explained. India’s four largest Northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, had “excess mortality” among girls than the average – as high as 30 per 1,000 live births. The paper's co-author Nandita Saikia said that the intervention to reduce the discrimination should target these northern states. "The sustained fertility decline currently observed in north India is likely to lead to a reduction in postnatal discrimination. Unless son preference diminishes, lower fertility, however, might bring about a rise in gender-biased sex selection," said Saikia.
The sex-determination tests are illegal in India but still there are people who manage to get them done and then abandon the child. The study brings shocking details making our country rank among the most skewed sex ratios in the world. Gender discrimination also results in more number of abuses against the women and also the crime rates go up. Despite creating education and awareness about the girl child, the study goes on to show that we haven't progressed in the field at all.