Gender bias kills 240 000 infant girls in India every year - study

Almost a quarter-of-a-million girls younger than five years old die in India every year due to neglect resulting from society's preference for sons, a gender discrimination study found on Tuesday.

This was over and above those aborted simply for being female, researchers wrote in The Lancet medical journal.

ALSO READ: Mom charged in starved girl's death pleads no contest

"Gender-based discrimination towards girls doesn't simply prevent them from being born, it may also precipitate the death of those who are born," said study co-author Christophe Guilmoto of the Paris Descartes University.

"Gender equity is not only about rights to education, employment or political representation, it is also about care, vaccination, and nutrition of girls, and ultimately survival."

Guilmoto and a team used population data from 46 countries to calculate how many infant girls would have died in a society where there was no discrimination impact, and how many died in reality.

2.4 million deaths over decade

The difference, about 19 deaths out of every 1 000 girls born between 2000 and 2005, was ascribed to the effects of gender bias.

This amounted to about 239 000 deaths per year, or 2.4 million over a decade.

"Around 22% of the overall mortality burden of females under five (in India) is therefore due to gender bias," the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a research institute based in Austria, said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Feral dog packs kill 6 Indian children, terrify villagers

The problem was most pronounced in northern India, the researchers found, with states Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, accounting for two-thirds of the excess deaths.

Hardest hit were poor, rural, farming regions with low education levels, high population densities, and high birth rates.

"As the regional estimates of excess deaths of girls demonstrate, any intervention to reduce the discrimination against girls in food and healthcare allocation should therefore target in priority regions... where poverty, low social development, and patriarchal institutions persist and investments (in) girls are limited," said co-author Nandita Saikia of IIASA.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
15.66
+0.6%
Rand - Pound
19.63
+1.0%
Rand - Euro
16.82
+0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.13
+0.6%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.3%
Gold
1,867.03
+0.7%
Silver
22.11
+1.4%
Palladium
2,006.99
+0.4%
Platinum
956.00
-0.3%
Brent Crude
113.42
+0.8%
Top 40
61,177
-1.0%
All Share
67,691
-1.0%
Resource 10
74,345
-0.4%
Industrial 25
71,771
-1.7%
Financial 15
15,802
-0.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE