According to an analysis published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Open underscored the prevalence of sex-selective abortions and missing girls in Nepal.
The report estimated that one in 50 girl births were missing in the 2011 population census of Nepal, implying that they have been aborted. A total of 22,540 girl births were missing in the five years before the 2011 population census.
The researchers found that 11 districts have significantly skewed Sex Ratios at Birth (SRB) in the 2011 population census. Arghakhanchi is the most affected district with the highest SRBs (127), followed by Bhaktapur (SRB=123). One in six female births were missing in Arghakhanchi.
Moreover, the analysis revealed that sex-selective abortion was geographically concentrated around Kathmandu Valley and Lumbini Province, with 53% of missing girls found in only 11 out of 75 districts.
As per the analysis, in the Kathmandu valley, around 115 males are born for every 100 females. However, researchers estimated that without sex selection only 105 males would be born for every 100 females.
The researchers said that the sex selection would persist and increase in Nepal unless a coordinated effort is made. They advised the Nepali Government to introduce policies that are holistic and encompass economic and legal gender equity. The scientists also requested the government to strengthen monitoring mechanisms to prevent technology misuse, without jeopardizing the right to safe, free and legal abortion.
“As fertility falls and urbanization increases, there is more access to prenatal sex identification technology in Nepal,” said Melanie Channon, the study’s lead author from the University of Bath’s Department of Social and Policy Sciences.
“Our study shows some of the impact this has had over recent years, and we expect there will be a ‘trickle-down’ of ability to select the sex of a baby from the wealthiest and most educated as the technology becomes more widely available and more affordable. Put simply and starkly, without concerted effort, there will be an increase in sex-selective abortions in Nepal,” she added.
According to United Nations Population Fund, around 140 million women are believed to be missing globally. Some areas have seen around 25% more male births than female births.
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