08 June 2012
Shirur’s Skewed Figures May Be Due To Migration, Dowry
The term, ‘female foeticide’ may have become synonymous with the ultrasonography technology that allows one to determine the gender of the unborn child. But curiously, Shirur taluka in Beed, which has been at the bottom of the sex ratio chart in the state for years, does not have a single USG centre.
In Shirur, for every 1,000 boys born, there are 768 girls. The trend, says Beed collector
Sadanand Koche, has been consistent for years. “The reasons behind Shirur faring the worst in child sex ratio are many and complicated,” he said.
Merely 40 km from Beed town, Shirur has 60 villages, mainly populated by nomadic tribes. But while Beed has over 100 hospitals with 75 gynaecologists practicing there, Shirur has only two MBBS doctors and almost all the smaller medical centres are run by ayurveda and homoeopathy degree-holders. Yet, the two places have one thing in common: the words, ‘abortion’ and ‘sex determination’, are taboo.
Though the Shirur authorities refuse to acknowledge that the number of girl child born there is abysmal, official figures bare it all. The primary health centre carries out up to 30 deliveries a month; in May, out of the 28 babies born, 15 were boys. The figure is worse for April, when out of 24 babies born, six were girls.
A look at the records of Shirur’s biggest school, Kalikadevi Medium and High School, shows that out of 739 students in Classes V to X, only 304 are girls. The sex ratio becomes even more skewed in college.
According to statistical assistant with the Integrated Child Development Scheme Shubhangi Rayate, many mothers themselves are not keen on daughters. “But it is difficult to maintain records of all the parents and babies as couples here migrate to other parts for six months for sugarcane cutting,” she said. “We can’t keep a tab on them outside the taluka and don’t know if they get a sex-determination done there.” Every year, about 5 lakh people from Beed migrate outside to work.
Koche added with many in the sugarcane industry offering jobs to boys with a wife only, villagers want sons. “Contractor picks up couples as single units. Parents prefer boys as they get ‘extra workforce’ in the form of a daughterin-law,” he said. A couple gets paid up to Rs 2 lakh.
Dowry is another major reason behind Shirur residents preferring a boy to a girl. Here, even a poor sugarcane cutter has to pay Rs 2-5 lakh as dowry. Dr Sudhakar Khedkar, who has been in Shirur for 12 years, said owing to this reason, people from all strata—the poorest to the richest—tended to abort fem-ale foetuses once they found out the child’s sex from priva-te USG centres outside Shirur. But schemes like Ajit Balika Yojana, were bringing hope, he said. Under it, after a girl is born, an FD of Rs 5,000 is deposited in her bank account and the amount can be withdrawn only after 18 years.
IN COP NET
Dr Shivaji Sanap and his father-in-law Dr Srihari Lahane have been arrested for allegedly conducting illegal abortions at the former’s hospital in Beed. Their arrests happened after cops traced back two female foetuses found in the dry basin of Bindusara river to Sanap Hospital
ON THE RUN
1 The problem of female infanticide in Beed came to light again mid-May
Twenty-two-year-old Vijaymala Patekar dies on May 18 while undergoing illegal abortion in sixth month of gestation at Munde Hospital in Parli
Dr Sudam Munde and his doctor wife, Saraswati, claim Patekar died of excessive bleeding but flee after details of female infanticide surface
An NGO claims that, during a sting operation, Sudam had admitted to feeding female foetuses to his five dogs
Police investigations reveal 40 bank accounts, 120 acres of land and deposits of over Rs 1 crore
Parli court issues notice directing doctor couple to surrender before July 3 or else property will be sealed 2 Besides the Mundes, the police are on the lookout for Dr Madhav Sanap and anaesthetist Dr A Dahiphalkar. The two are alleged to have carried out sex selection tests at Bhagwan hospital in Beed town and are missing since the last few days
Parents in lock-up
Booked for culpable homicide of their newborn girl, Sushila Chitodia (20) and her husband have been locked up at the Beed police station for almost a month. But activists say it is more of a case of collateral damage than female foeticide. The baby died at birth due to a doctor’s alleged negligence and the family buried her in a field. Soon, the body was dug up by dogs. Beed cops, who arrested the parents, said with the probe still on, they did not want them to go. TNN
GOVT PROMISES A right balance has to be struck between a woman’s right to privacy and the need to curb misuse of sonography tests — Prithviraj Chavan | CHIEF MINISTER