A recent report released by United Nation population Fund (UNFPA) titled, “Against my will: defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality” highlights some very disturbing facts. According to the State of the World Population 2020 report, the number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years which was at 61 million in 1970. Out of the total 142 million missing girls, 45.8 million are from India.
According to a 2014 study, India has the highest rate of excess female deaths. Out of every 1000 female birth, 13.5 die due to the post-natal sex selection. From the year 2013 to 2017, each year around 4.6 lakh girls went missing in India. “According to one analysis, gender-biased sex selection accounts for about two-thirds of the total missing girls, and post-birth female mortality accounts for about one-third,” report states.
According to the report, China and India—together account for about 90 per cent to 95 per cent of the estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million missing female births annually worldwide due to gender-biased (prenatal) sex selection. These two countries also account for the largest total number of births each year.
The report focuses on many human rights violations against women. Including female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, and sex selection biases. “Harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.
Talking about ‘marriage squeeze’ (when prospective grooms outnumber prospective brides), the report predicts that it could result in more child marriages. Studies also suggest that the marriage squeeze will peak in India in 2055.
“Gender stereotyping and sex discrimination are the main reasons why girls, not boys, account for the majority of child marriages. Longstanding patriarchal notions about a girl’s worth being linked to her virginity, ability to reproduce and ability to contribute domestic labour to the household mean that marriage is a way for men to control women and girls”.