S hort Article

Study on Knowledge, Attitude and Practices Regarding Gender Preference and Female Feticide Among Pregnant Women
BN Vadera, UK Joshi, SV Unadakat, BS Yadav, Sudha Yadav

Skewed sex ratio is an issue of major concern and has long-term social and demographic consequences. At the heart of the problem is the low status of women in society, a patriarchal social framework and value system based on ‘son mania’. The problem is getting worse as scientiÞc methods of detecting the sex of the foetus and for termination of pregnancy are improving. This seems to be fulÞlling the long felt need of the people through female feticide. In this light, the study of factors inßuencing sex ratio becomes very relevant for better understanding of the problem.

higher among rural women (70.68%) than that of the urban women (53.28%). The association was statistically signiÞcant [Table 1]. Preference to male child was higher in women who had no male child previously (65.28%) than those who already had a male child (42.50%). This difference was also statistically signiÞcant [Table 1]. Of the 195 women, 40 (20.51%) admitted that they will go for female feticide. The inclination to female feticide was higher in women who showed son preference. One hundred and ten (54.4%) women were aware about consequences of female feticide. Consequences of female feticide expressed by these women were: ‘men won’t Þnd bride’, ‘families can’t be run’, lead to an all-male family and increase in violence against women. The awareness of consequences of female feticide grew with literacy status. It was 35% among illiterate women, 53.4% in primary level literacy and 73.13% in secondary and above. The difference was statistically signiÞcant [Table 2].

Materials and Methods
A cross-sectional study was undertaken with 195 pregnant women who attended the antenatal clinic (ANC) of G.G. Hospital attached to M.P. Shah Medical College, Jamnagar, Gujarat. The study was carried out from August 2006 to September 2006. Every Þfth women attending the ANC was selected for the study. A pre-tested and pre-structured questionnaire was used to collect information on their knowledge and attitudes towards gender preference and female feticide. Chisquare was used as a test of signiÞcance.

Results
Of the 195 pregnant women selected for the study, 70.3% were from urban area and 29.7% from rural area. It was discovered that 20.5% were illiterate and 79.5% were literate. Out of 195 women studied, 114 (58.5%) gave preference to male child; the major reasons for this being social responsibilities are carried out by males (42.5%), for propagation of family name (23%), dependable in the old age (16%), pressure from family (11%), to perform cremation (4%), dowry (3%) and females are economic liability (3%). Our study revealed that socio-demographic factors affect gender preference. Preference to male child was
Department of Community Medicine, Shri M.P. Shah Medical College, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India
Correspondence to: Dr. B. N. Vadera, Department of Community Medicine, Shri M.P. Shah Medical College, Near G.G. Hospital, P.N. Marg, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India. E-mail: dr.vadera@gmail.com Received: 13.06.07 Accepted: 18.10.07

Discussion
In our study, 58.5% of women gave preference to male child. A study carried out by Puri et al. showed that 56% women in the slums of Chandigarh showed preference to male child,(1) which is very similar to our observation in the present study. The important reasons for son preference are social responsibilities taken by males, propagation of family name, support in the old age, to perform cremation and dowry. As per a report published by UNFPA in conjunction with Ministry of H&FW and OfÞce of Registrar General and Census Commissioner India 2003, there is a strong preference to son in India, which is inßuenced by many socio-economic and cultural factors, such as son being responsible to carry forward family name and occupation, source of support at the old age and to perform religious rites during cremation and practice of dowry.(2) The results are similar to those found in the present study. The preference to male child was higher among rural women than in the urban women. This difference was statistically signiÞcant. Narayan Das had also observed a similar difference between the rural and urban
Indian Journal of Community Medicine Vol. 32, No. 4, October 2007

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(3) The preference to male child was higher in women with no previous male child. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 2003. 2. P ≤ 0. Gender preference and awareness regarding sex determination among married women in slums of Chandigarh. The consequences of female feticide expressed by them were: ‘men won’t Þnd bride’.08 5. Das N. Puri S.(4) Education inßuences one’s awareness regarding the consequences of adverse sex ratio.05 Significance SigniÞcant SigniÞcant Table 2: Association between education and awareness regarding consequences of female feticide Awareness present (%) No awareness (%) Total Illiterate Primary Secondary Total χ2 = 15.50) 97 (62.41) χ2 5. the inclination to female feticide is reported in oneÞfth of women studied in spite of them being aware of the consequences of imbalance in sex ratio. Conclusion The present study shows a clear picture of factors affecting the present sex ratio.28 P-value <0. This awareness References 1. Mapping the Adverse Child Sex Ratio in India. Puri et al.58) No son preference (%) 64 (46. The existence of son preference at an alarmingly high rate in our society is the root cause of imbalanced sex ratio.Vadera BN.87) 85 (43. 4.28) 41 (70.10:1. Guarantor of the paper: Dr. et al. Shah Medical College. United Nations Population Fund.13) 110 (56. while education increases awareness regarding the consequences of adverse sex ratio.32) 23 (57. Source of Support: Nil. 1. No.41) 26 (65) 41 (46.4%) women were aware about the consequences of female feticide. Indian Journal of Community Medicine Vol. ‘families can’t be run’ and lead to an allmale family. 4.68) 17 (42. Ajinder Walia reports about the attitude towards female feticide to be 41. Conflict of Interest: None declared.25% in his study on “Female Feticide in Punjab: Exploring the Socio-economic and Cultural Dimensions”. Indian J Community Med 2007. Female feticide in Punjab: Exploring the socio-economic and cultural dimensions. Walia A. Sociodemographic factors do play a role.: KAP study on gender preference Table 1: Association between son preference and socio-economic characteristics (n = 195) Variables Residential area Urban Rural Sex of previous child Male No male child Son preference (%) 73 (53.40) 49 (73. Professor and Head. 14 (35) 47 (53. OfÞce of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner.05 <0.1:60-2. Jamnagar.50) 58 (37.P. 32. Similar implications of female feticide were reported in an earlier study on female feticide carried out by Ajinder Walia. found that preference to son was higher among women having no male child than those already having a male child. 3. Gujarat.59) 40 88 67 195 population in his study of “Sex Preference and Fertility Behavior”. Shri M.60) 18 (26. Sex preference and fertility behavior: A study of recent Indian data.71) 17 (29.(1) The present study reveals that 20% of women would go for female feticide if they discovered the gender of the fetus. India. October 2007 301 CMYK301 . Moreover. J Soc Issues 2005.01 increases with education status. Sudha Yadav.(4) One hundred and ten (54. Missing…. p. Demography 1987.24:517-30.40. Department of Community Medicine. Our study revealed that residential area and sex of the previous child affect a woman’s preference for her next child.

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