A report that came out two this week revealed that in 132 villages in the district of Uttarkashi, in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, not a single female baby was recorded to be born over the last three months. So alarming is this sudden decline of the child sex ratio that the local administration marked all 132 of these villages under the red zone, and put a local group called Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) to the task.
The statistic was provided by the state health department. The data showed only male babies were born out of the 51 deliveries in 27 villages in Dunda village, since April. A similar trend was picked up in 27 villages in Bhatwari, 28 villages in Naugaun, 20 villages in Mori, 16 villages in Chinyalisaur and 14 villages in Purola block.
“According to the data collected by the health department, we have discovered that out of a total of 216 deliveries, not a single girl child has been born in 132 villages, which is suspicious and has highlighted female foeticide,” Uttarkashi’s District Magistrate Ashish Chauhan told The Times of India (TOI).
Chauhan also said that it’s possible this could be a coincidence. “We don’t have any [proof] of girl foeticide [but] we can’t take any chances... We will monitor data and activities of all these villages for next six months and will take strict action against ASHA workers if the situation does not improve. Moreover, we will also take legal action against the families who will be found guilty,” he added.
Female foeticide is a prevalent practice of selective abortion of female fetuses, which was outlawed in India in 1994. Despite that, reports show that this tradition continues since dowries for girls is rampant in most parts of India. A government report last year found that 63 million women were “missing” from India due to “issues relating to son preference [which is] a matter for Indian society as a whole to reflect upon.”
The latest census (2011) shows that in Uttarakhand, the adult sex ratio is 963 females for every 1,000 males, while the child sex ratio stood at 890. At the same time, the Indian government also has a ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save Girls, Educate Girls)’ scheme to allow gender equality as a behaviour pattern in the light of the pre-existing traditions that are killing girls and women.
But for now, the investigation to find out more about missing girl children is on. “It is shocking to have zero girl children in 132 villages of the district, as we have rarely heard or seen any incident of female foeticide in the hills,” Gopal Rawal, an MLA of Gangotri district in Uttarakhand, told TOI. “I have directed the health department to find out the real cause... we will also launch a massive awareness campaign to save girl children with the help of the administration, NGOs and all other possible ways to reverse the trend.”
Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on VICE IN.