One-child trend & inheritance law could cause declining sex ratio

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 11 March 2013 22:53 IST

ToI editor K R Sreenivas speaking at Sex Ratio Seminar

One-child phenomena in increasing number of nuclear families and law of inheritance could be the reasons for declining sex ratio in Goa.

These observations came to the fore at the seminar on “Is Goa in denial about its missing girls”, organized by the International Centre Goa last weekend.

Penalty for disinheritating women, setting up women-oriented industries like Educational Hub and Trade Hub and tax incentives to the industries providing equal employment with gender equality were some of the measures suggested at the seminar to increase the sex ratio.

The panelists at the seminar also felt that the government should have introduce Laadli Laxmi scheme on the lines of Delhi by depositing money at the time of birth of a girl child that would be paid with interest at the age of 18.

The existing Laadli Laxmi scheme is nothing but a government dowry, which in no way helps in reducing female feticide.

It was also felt that the reason for declining ratio in Goa was beyond normal reasons like anti-girl attitude or fear or unaffordable dowry.

Dr Deepa Narayan, a cultural psychologist, observed that deep cultural bias could be one of the major reasons for the declining sex ratio.

Compared to 1066 women to 1000 men in 1960, Dr Narayan said the ratio has declined to 968:1000 in 2011 census.

Among the age group of 0 to 6 years, she informed the audience that it had slipped down to 920:1000 in 2001 census itself, which is worse than Bihar, having a ratio of 933:1000.

“It is better to be born in Bihar than Goa for a girl child”, she said.

She also dismissed the theories like poverty, lack of education, migration and rural phenomena as the reasons for the declining ratio as Goa is having hardly four per cent people below poverty line, high literacy rate and urban areas recording much lower rate of sex ratio than rural.

Adding to this, journalist Sandesh Prabhudesai, who chaired the session, observed that the rural-urban ratio has practically reversed since 1960, from 85 per cent rural to 38 per cent while urban population has increased from 15 per cent to 62 per cent.

With urbanization, he observed that the joint family concept has completely collapsed and the nuclear families nowadays prefer only one child.

“At this stage, there is a possibility of Goans choosing a son as an heir to the property rather than a daughter, as a matter of preferred choice,” he observed.

Dr Shaila De Souza, head of the Centre for Women Studies at Goa University, said the law of inheritance with equal ownership to all the heirs could be another reasons for the declining sex ratio.

She thus suggested strict penalty for disinheritance to girl heirs as well as tax incentives for equal employment with gender equal approach in all the establishments.

K R Sreenivas, Times of India resident editor, observed that women in Goa are highly respected compared to rest of India and girls excel better than boys in the educational field.

He however felt that Goa should go for better industry than mere mining and tourism where women could get better employment, like developing Goa as educational hub.

Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mangirish Pai Raikar pointed out that Goa has more women in HR as well as in well-paid Pharma industry today.

While a trade hub could attract more women in the field like logistics, Raikar also felt that more efforts are required to encourage women to take up entrepreneurship.

ICG director Nandini Sahay welcomed the gathering. Adv Shanti Fonseca and others participated. 

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