The declining sex ratio in India, particularly the lower number of females compared to males, can be attributed to several factors. Here are some key causes:
1. Gender preference and cultural factors: A strong preference for male children and deeply rooted cultural beliefs regarding the superiority of males play a significant role. This preference leads to sex-selective practices such as female feticide, sex-selective abortions, and neglect of female infants.
2. Son preference and dowry system: The tradition of dowry, where the bride’s family is expected to provide substantial gifts or payments to the groom’s family, places a financial burden on families with daughters. This contributes to the preference for male children as they are seen as future providers and heirs, while daughters are considered an economic liability.
3. Limited access to healthcare and prenatal sex determination: Unequal access to healthcare, particularly in rural areas, has perpetuated the practice of prenatal sex determination and subsequent sex-selective abortions. The availability of ultrasound technology has made it easier to determine the sex of a fetus and has facilitated the practice of female feticide.
4. Poverty and socioeconomic factors: Poverty and socioeconomic disparities exacerbate the problem. Limited resources and financial constraints make families more likely to resort to sex-selective practices, hoping to secure a male child for better economic prospects and social security.
5. Inadequate implementation of laws and regulations: Despite legal measures like the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, there are challenges in effectively implementing and enforcing these laws, resulting in continued gender-based discrimination and practices.