gender bias

More male foetus abortions than female? Official data indicates vast under-reporting

As many as 238 foetuses and newborns were abandoned in South Delhi alone.

More male babies were victims of foeticide than female in 2014, the latest year for which data are available, according to national crime data, indicating the extent of under-reporting.

As many as 53 male foeticides were reported in 2014, compared to 50 cases of female foeticides, according to National Crime Records Bureau data. Sex of four foetuses were unknown.

Since a law criminalising sex selection came into force 20 years ago in 1996, 350 people have been convicted, which is nearly 18 every year, according to a Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) reply dated August 5, 2016.

That this is a vast underestimate is obvious from India’s declining child sex ratio (the number of females to 1,000 males under six years of age), which fell from 945 in 1991 to 918 in 2011.

Source: United Nations Population Fund
Source: United Nations Population Fund

“Of the 12 million girls born in India, one million do not see their first birthdays,” said Kamini Lalu, an additional sessions judge in an order in 2014, quoted in the Business Standard. “As a result of this human trafficking has become common in various states of India where teenage girls are being sold for cheap money by poor families, being treated as sex objects with more than half of such cases going unreported.”

As many as 238 foetuses and newborns were abandoned in South Delhi alone, between 1996 and 2012; of these, 115 were males, 110 were females, and sex of 13 foetuses could not be ascertained, according to an All India Institute of Medical Science study, the Indian Express reported on August 17, 2016.

Males were predominant, but on closer examination, “females out-numbered males” among the foetuses five months (20 weeks) of gestational age, Dr C Behera, one of the co-authors of the report, said. “Owing to the societal bias in favour of a male, this could mean that selective female foeticide happened during this period. In India, medical abortion is allowed only up to 20 weeks of gestational age and criminal abortions and selective female foeticide subsequent to antenatal sex determination are more likely before 20 weeks of pregnancy,” Behera said.

Madhya Pradesh reported the most (15) female foeticide cases in 2014, followed by Rajasthan (11), Punjab (7), Uttar Pradesh (4) and Haryana (4), according to an August 5, 2016 reply to the Lok Sabha. Provisional data for 2015 reported 52 female foeticides, with Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra reporting more than other states, 12 each.

As many as 2,296 cases have been filed across India for illegal sex-determination tests as of March 2016, the government told the Parliament.

Of 107 foeticides – NCRB does not provide data on male or female foeticides by state – reported across India in 2015, Madhya Pradesh reported the most (30), followed by Rajasthan (24), Uttar Pradesh (11), Punjab (10) and Maharashtra (7).

Source: National Crime Records Bureau
Source: National Crime Records Bureau

NCRB started collecting data for female foeticide only from 2014, the government told the Parliament.

Sex selection cases are filed under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994.

Rajasthan leads, with 626 on-going court/police cases for sex determination, followed by Maharashtra (554), Punjab (192), Haryana (165) and Uttar Pradesh (139).

These five states account for 73% of all reported sex-determination tests nationwide, an obvious under-estimate, as we said, given the number of foeticides reported by independent studies.

Source: Lok Sabha; Figures as on March 2016.
Source: Lok Sabha; Figures as on March 2016.

In all, 350 convictions were made and 100 medical registrations were cancelled nation-wide over two decades.

Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar are the worst states to be a woman, IndiaSpend reported in July, 2016. These states have the highest sex-selective abortions, and women in these states have the lowest literacy rates, marry earliest, die most frequently while pregnant, bear the most children, have the most crimes committed against them and are least likely to be employed.

The sex ratio at birth in India was 908 for 2010-'12, which improved to 909 during 2011-13. Among India’s 21 larger states, Haryana is the worst, with 864 females per 1,000 males (2011-13), according to data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to parliament on April 29, 2016.

Punjab (867), Uttar Pradesh (878), Delhi (887), Rajasthan (893) and Maharashtra (902) are other worst-performing states. Chhattisgarh has India’s most favourable sex ratio at birth, with 970 females per 1,000 males, followed by Kerala (966) and Karnataka (958), among the larger states.

Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Haryana have had the worst decline in the past 30 years in child sex ratio, according to the MOHFW annual report 2015-'16.

India’s sex ratio is 943 per 1000 males, as per Census 2011. Haryana is the worst performing among 28 states, with 879 females per 1000 males, followed by Jammu and Kashmir (889), Sikkim (890), Punjab (895), and Uttar Pradesh (898).

The overall Indian sex ratio should be at least 950 women to 1,000 men (nature produces more males than females, as boys are more vulnerable to infant diseases than girls).

Haryana has 17 districts classified as gender-critical, one of which Rohtak – with 867 females for every 1,000 males – gave India its first Olympic medal in 2016, after wrestler Sakshi Malik became the first Indian female wrestler to win a medal at Olympics, IndiaSpend reported earlier this month.

This article first appeared on Indiaspend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.