|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 52-55
Assessment of attitude of the women of the reproductive age group toward girl child in an urban slum in Punjab
Rajinder S Balgir, Sumeet Singh
Department of Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Patiala, Punjab, India
|Date of Web Publication||5-Jun-2015|
Dr. Sumeet Singh
Department of Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Patiala, Punjab
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Introduction: Girl child continues to be insecure and vulnerable in South-East Asia particularly in India despite various legal measures. Only law cannot be a solution, identifying the social factors and working on their improvements are also essential.
Aims and Objectives: (1) To assess the present child sex ratio (0-6 child sex ratio [CSR]) in defined study population. (2) To assess the attitude of the women of the reproductive age group toward the girl child and relate it to the status of sex ratio.
Methodology: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in a sub locality of 283 households out of which 147 households having children in age group of 0-6 years were selected and mothers of children were interviewed with a prestructured pretested questionnaire containing a rating scale of 40 items in vernacular language to determine the attitude of the mother toward girl child.
Results: Total no. of children in the age group of 0-6 years were found to be 241, with CSR of 709 but had a sharp contrast in children <2 years with CSR nearing 1000 as compared to elder children with much lower Figures 50.4%, 10.9%, and 38.7% of the respondent mothers had a positive, mixed, and negative attitude toward girl child respectively.
Discussion: The negative attitude especially among mothers should be well addressed. Awareness among them needs to be raised along with appropriate changes in society to bring the reputation of females at par with male counterparts.
Keywords: Female feticide, gender discrimination, mothers attitude toward girl child, sex ratio
|How to cite this article:|
Balgir RS, Singh S. Assessment of attitude of the women of the reproductive age group toward girl child in an urban slum in Punjab. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2015;8:52-5
|How to cite this URL:|
Balgir RS, Singh S. Assessment of attitude of the women of the reproductive age group toward girl child in an urban slum in Punjab. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Oct 18];8:52-5. Available from: http://www.ijournalhs.org/text.asp?2015/8/1/52/158234
| Introduction|| |
It is a matter of grave concern and shame that girl child continues to be insecure and vulnerable in India, moreover in some of the states. The preference for sons or more number of sons than daughters has been documented in several countries in the world, especially in South-East Asia.  Particularly in India, the preference for a son is very strong and pervasive, and it has been frequently cited as one of the major obstacles in the way of reducing the national fertility level. . State of Punjab, despite various measures and laws like Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act, which specifically prohibits prenatal sex determination, continues to be poor in this aspect. As per the census of 2011, the child sex ratio (CSR) of India has declined from 927 to 919 females per 1000 males, which is the lowest since the country's independence. Punjab is even worse, second only to Haryana, with CSR of 846.  Female feticide is an extreme manifest of violence against women. The preference for a male child and discrimination against the female child are causing the rapid disappearance of female children in India. In India, a women's status is associated not only with her reproductive capability but also on her success in delivering a male child, which enhances women's will to give birth to a male child.  However, females can be the essential change also, as they are the ones who carry the child in their womb. Only law cannot be a solution, identifying the social factors and working on their improvements are also essential. Therefore, the need of the hour is to stress upon other avenues/alternatives that can strengthen the law and can bring about desired social change. One such alternative is by increasing the awareness in the mothers about female feticide, so that mothers can at least identify it as a social problem and further try to curb female feticide.
| Aims and Objectives|| |
(1) To assess the present 0-6 CSR in defined study population. (2) To assess the attitude of the women of the reproductive age group toward girl child and relate it to the status of sex ratio.
| Methodology|| |
A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in a sub locality (slums) of urban field practice area under Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Patiala in 2013. Considering the limitations of teaching institute, it was planned to restrict the study population to this particular area, where the interviewers (interns) can be supervised. A group of 25 well-trained interns with a support staff of Urban Health Training Centre visited the 283 households in the predemarcated area. Of which 147 households having children in age group of 0-6 years were selected and mothers of children were interviewed with a prestructured pretested questionnaire containing a rating scale of 40 items in vernacular language to determine the attitude of the mother toward girl child with questions related to different domains such as perceived reasons for preference of male child and less preference of female child, females viewpoints for opposing the practice of female feticide, perceived harmful impact of female feticide on society, females viewpoints for supporting the practice of female feticide. Validity of the tool was confirmed by the expert's opinion from other departments of the medical college and associated nursing college and were pretested outside the study population.
After establishing rapport and recording the demographic profile of the family, mothers were interviewed, and responses to the questionnaire were collected. If there are more than one mothers fitting to inclusion criteria in one household then the mother of the younger child was selected. Resisting households were revisited along with faculty members, to complete the sample after assuring the respondent's anonymity. The data collected were compiled and analyzed to give following results.
| Results|| |
Total no. of children in the age group of 0-6 years were found to be 241, having 141 males and 100 females depicting child (0-6 years) sex ratio of 709, which is much lower even than district and state figure.
[Table 1] shows sex ratio in different age groups among 0-6 years, indicating a contrasting picture in <2 years with CSR nearing 1000 as compared to elder children with much lower figures. All the age groups above 2 years had much lower CSR. When compared as per family indicators such as household income lesser or more than Rs. 5000/month, the wide gap was also found. [Table 2] also shows the difference in CSR when it was compared between joint family and nuclear family that is, 761 and 662, respectively.
[Table 3] presents the overall attitude of the mothers toward girl child projected after compiling the responses to questions covering different domains in the questionnaire. Only half of the mothers have a positive attitude toward the girl child while 10% had mixed responses and rest were having an overall negative attitude toward the girl child.
| Discussion|| |
A sharp contrast in age groups as depicted in [Table 1], with a healthy CSR 1000 or above in children below 2 years and much poor in those beyond 2 years, even worse than Patiala District average CSR 834 of 2011, raises many concerns that whether it is due to poor care of female children after birth or it is due to more stringent application of PC-PNDT law in last 2 years which needs further evaluation beyond the purview of present study. Although such a pattern of improvement has also been seen in census figures; 776 in 2001-834 in 2011 in Patiala district. 
The CSR among children belonging to households having income below Rs. 5000/month was found to be more as compared to those having more income. This shows that discrimination against a female child is more prevalent in the economically better section of this population. It is also a matter of concern and indicates that poor economic status is not the cause of neglect of female child and root causes are to be identified in thoughts, perceptions, and attitude toward girl child in society. This inverse relation of declining sex ratio with the rise in economic status is evident in other reports also. The phenomenon of son preference has reached alarming proportions in India's most prosperous states, rather than the most "backward" ones.  Similar was found by Toppo et al., in Bhopal that the sex ratio was poorest among the higher socioeconomic class.  Same was evident in National Family Health Survey-2 figures as quoted by Agarwal et al. 
Same was the condition when we compare CSR in the joint and nuclear families, where joint families score better than nuclear ones. It is dissimilar to the common belief that elders in the joint families do have a preference for a male child and pressurize for it. Hence, it becomes more important to study the attitude of mothers toward the girl child.
Attitude of the mothers, as depicted in [Table 3], is indicative of the fact that only 50% had a positive attitude toward the girl child, rest half of them had either mixed or negative attitude toward the girl child. Similar was found by Walia in three other districts of Punjab where 58.75% in Ludhiana, 50% in Bathinda, and 15% in Ferozpur justified female feticide.  No such previous reports from Patiala are available for comparison. As per a study which was done by National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD)  in 2008 in Delhi and Haryana, dowry was perceived as the main reason for the respondents not preferring a girl child. It also states "A majority of the opinion leaders felt that there is strong gender discrimination in the village in relation to food, education, and other areas such as freedom to play and go outside. It was found that the women themselves discriminate between a son and the daughter." 
In a study in Ludhiana among patients, 72% respondents agreed to statement that a female child is less preferred.  The mentioned study also concludes "As females are important stakeholders in elimination of the practice of female feticide, it is recommended that this group should be equipped with ample amount of knowledge so that they can act as change mediators in the society". 
This negative attitude especially among mothers should be well addressed and they should be made aware of the negative implications due to sex selection and gender discrimination to the society along with appropriate changes in society to bring the reputation of females at par with male counterparts. In a study in south India majority of the study subjects (51%) were of the opinion that a girl child was not preferred because of the dowry system, 35% thought that they were a burden for the family, and 9.4% were of the opinion that they could not take care of the parents.  As per a study, which was done by NIPCCD  in 2008 in Delhi and Haryana, dowry was perceived as the main reason for the respondents not preferring a girl child.
It will require serious efforts from all the stakeholders to change this mindset in our society. The next generation presents a ray of hope that the change will come and our society will leave behind these issues as indicated by a study in Ludhiana among school students where 97.9% of the students knew correctly about female feticide. Male and female students had an almost equal level of awareness (98.7% and 98.6%, respectively). The majority of the students (98.4%) agreed to the fact that female feticide is harmful for society. They were also of the opinion that this practice should be stopped (99.4%). 
| Conclusion|| |
The analysis of first objective reveals sex ratio in given population where sex ratio was found to be good in under 2 years of children, but drastically poor among older children, which need to be further assessed with a detailed investigation of cause of under 5 mortality in this particular area.
Findings suggest that in accordance to 2 nd objective only half of the respondent mothers were found to be having positive attitude toward girl child and this situation does not improve with increase in family income or being a nuclear family.
| Limitations|| |
Present studies have its limitations as it was confined to a small geographical area, a single slum, and moreover the study population also had some of the immigrant families. Hence, the study population is not representative enough to generalize these findings.
| References|| |
Cleland JG, Verrall J, Vaessan M. Preference for the sex of children and their influences on reproductive behavior World Fertility Survey: Comparative studies, no. 27. Voorburg, Netherlands: International Statistical Institute; 1983.
Rajarethanm T, Desphande RV. Gender preference and India′s missing girls: Evidence from same selected states of India. Boston, USA: Population Association of America; 1994.
Baligar PV. Mother and Girl Child. Jaipur: Rawat Publication; 1999. p. 523-5.
Toppo M, Diwakar A, Pal DK. A Study of sex ratio in relation to birth order in Bhopal city. Healthline 2012;3:47.
Agrawal S, Alam N, Arokiasamy P, Attane I, Badurashvili I, Belanger D, et al
. Discrimination from conception to childhood: A study of girl children in rural Haryana, India. Watering the neighbour′s garden: The growing demographic female deficit in Asia. Paris: Published by Committee for International Cooperation in National Research in Demography; 2007. p. 141.
A Socio-Cultural Study of the Declining Sex Ratio in Delhi and Haryana. New Delhi: National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development; 2008. p. 123. Available from: http://www.nipccd.nic.in/reports/esratio.pdf
. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 20].
Choudhary M. Perception regarding female feticide among females attending out patient departments of selected hospital of Ludhiana city. Nitte Univ J Health Sci 2014;4:43-5.
Metri SS, Venktesh GM, Thejeshwari HL. Awareness regarding gender preference and female foeticide among teachers in the Hassan district, south India. J Clin Diagn Res 2011;5 Suppl 2:1430-3.
Chaudhary A, Satija M, Sharma S, Singh G, Soni RK, Sachar RK. Awareness and perceptions of school children about female feticide in urban Ludhiana. Indian J Community Med 2010;35:302-4.
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]