West Bengal sees a decrease in male to female gender ratio


Awareness and intensive government surveillance had led to a slight improvement in the male-female sex ratio in Bengal. The birth rate of daughters per thousand sons increased from 933 (2011) to 941 (2018) in seven years. But that success could not be sustained. Recently, the report of the Sample Registration Survey shows that the ratio has decreased again in West Bengal along with 9 other states of the country. In 2020, this ratio was 936 in Bengal. However, in terms of the number of daughters per thousand sons, Delhi (860), Maharashtra (876), Telangana (892), and Uttarakhand (844) have a worse picture.

Doctors in West Bengal suspect that this trend has had a greater impact in urban areas than in rural Bengal. Because, by using advanced technology, the facility for sex determination of embryos is more common in cities. Due to the loopholes in the law, some of the doctors in Kolkata are also telling many couples about the sex identity of the pregnant fetus by performing various tests. A large number of them abort and kill the female fetus in the womb itself. And because of that, the gender ratio of sons and daughters is deteriorating.

Complaints have been made to the health department that clinics that illegally determine the sex of fetuses are quite easy to catch. Although they publicly say ‘no’ to the couple to determine the gender of the fetus, the health department found clinics in the outskirts of North and South Kolkata where English numbers 6 or 9 are written in pen or pencil on the report envelope. One official explained, “Everyone would think it is maybe a serial number from the clinic. But in reality, that is the sex of the fetus. Six resembles the English lowercase ‘B’ and nine resembles the lowercase ‘G’.” He also commented that it is generally believed that ultrasound clinics are used to determine the gender of the fetus.

Although relatively expensive, the cell-free fetal DNA test from the mother’s blood sample or the sample from the placenta through a syringe (chorionic villus sampling) can accurately determine the gender.

Gynecologists report that many gynaecology and infertility clinics perform these tests for various reasons, and dishonest doctors or clinics tell parents the gender of the fetus. An official of the health department said, “This tendency is more in non-Bengali families than in Bengalis. And since there are more non-Bengali families in Calcutta than in the district, this unethical and illegal act is more common in the metropolis.

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