In preparation for the missions trip to India, I was working on a flyer/brochure today to give to people informing them of what I’ll be doing there. As background, I did a little research into what the children’s ministry of India might look like. I uncovered something I never knew existed: a child sex ratio.
This term is a measure of how many girls are born vs how many boys. Actually, it’s a measure of how many girls are allowed to live and are registered in ratio with how many boys. This ratio is called the child sex ratio (CSR).
Before opening your eyes to a very different world, let me tell you what the CSR is for the United States. In 2002, the CSR was 954. What that means is there were 954 live female births recorded for every 1000 live male births. That number has not changed much. In 2012, the CSR was 952. As you can see the number of girls born is roughly equal to the number of boys and there is no significant shift in numbers of boys to number of girls over time.
India has a very different story to tell. The overall CSR for the country in 2001 was 927. That certainly is an indicator of a very different value placed on girls vs boys. What is more alarming is how this number is shifting. The CSR for the country of India in 2011 had dropped to 914.
But, as statistics go, this one number does not really tell us much. If we start picking that one number apart, we can begin to see a more revealing picture. In 2001, there were 503 districts of India with a CSR of 900-999 (remember, that number tells the number of live, registered female births per 1000 live, registered male births) and there were 109 districts with a CSR of 800-899. Just ten years later, there were 444 districts with a CSR of 900-999 and 187 districts with a CSR of 800-899.
There are 640 districts in India. Over this one ten-year period, 461 of those districts saw a decline in their CSR. Seven of those districts had their CSR decline by over 100 points! The lowest CSR’s are in the north and northwest portions of India, which is exactly where I will be going in June.
If we continue to dig even deeper, we can begin to see trends that are heart-wrenching. This ratio is significantly different in urban areas vs. rural areas. Over the first decade of the new millennium, urban trends show relatively little change in the CSR, and what little change occurred was in a positive direction. Fewer urban districts had low CSR’s (196 in 2001, 180 in 2011), while more urban districts had higher CSR’s (417 in 2001, 447 in 2011). To put it plainly, female births are becoming slightly more valued over time in urban areas.
It’s the reverse story in rural areas. There was a large drop in the number of rural districts that have a higher CSR (500 in 2001, 363 in 2011). Far more rural districts are showing signs of female infanticide in 2011 than in 2001. Low CSR’s are on the rise in rural areas (105 in 2001, 262 in 2011). Looking at a map, over 1/2 the country is shaded to represent areas with CSR’s that are less than 935.
Statistics such as these can be very hard to understand in real terms. So, here’s the bottom line: In the United States in 2002, 2.05 million boys were born compared to 1.96 million girls. That seems pretty close to even to me. In India, in 2011, 82.95 million boys were born and registered compared to only 75.84 million girls. That’s the gap that saddens me.
My heart is tearing apart – to think that the Indian culture is continuing to devalue women in such a way. Please, let this burn in your heart, too. Pray with me that God’s Holy Spirit can do a mighty work in India to create a heartfelt value of women in their culture.
If you would like more information regarding what my missions trip will be about – don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to tell you more about what I will be doing and what my teammates will be doing while we are there.
(All statistics regarding India come from Children in India 2012 – A Statistical Appraisal, a report put out by the Social Statistics Division of the Central Statistics Office, part of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India. Published in September 2012.)
(U.S. Statistics come from Trend Analysis of the Sex Ratio at Birth in the United States, an article in National Vital Statistics Reports, volume 53, number 20; published by the CDC in June 2005)