Acceptance for daughters rising, reveals survey

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25

Winds of change are blowing through Indian homes long stuck in patriarchy and son’s preference. Recent evidence shows that over the nearly three decades, there has been a gradual increase in the use of permanent methods of family planning among couples with only daughters.

The proportion of couples with only two daughters who accepted sterilisation more than doubled from 16% in National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-1 (1992-1993) to 33.6% in NFHS-4 (2015-2016).

Among couples with only three daughters, the proportion on sterilisation rose from 20% to 34%.

New trends found by researchers from the International Institute of Population Sciences indicate that while son’s preferences still dominate, the previous rigidity around the mindset is waning even in high son preference states of Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra.

“The rise in the percentage of married couples having only daughters and yet adopting permanent methods of family planning has increased indicating reduced historical aversion to daughters-only families and weakening patriarchal norms,” say researchers who, apart from looking at national data, also studied district health statistics for three high son preference states of Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and three low son preference states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Results show that the proportion of currently married couples with only one child (daughter) who adopted sterilization between two rounds of district survey rose from 1.5% to 3.1% in Punjab, 0.7% to 5.1% in Haryana and 5.4% to 10.3% in Maharashtra.

Corresponding rise for couples with two children (daughters) rose from 4.7 to 7.9% in Punjab; 2.9 to 9.9% in Haryana and 25 to 36% in Maharashtra; and three daughters rose from 8.8 to 13.1% in Punjab; 4.6 to 13.1% in Haryana and 36.4 to 47.6% in Maharashtra.

Among couples who have either sterilised or do not want more children with only one daughter, the increase (among high son preference states) has been the largest for Haryana (20%) followed by Maharashtra (10%) and Punjab (8%).

In Punjab, 21 per cent currently married couples with one daughter have either sterilised or do not want more children. 

Gurdaspur, Kapurthala top in Punjab

  • Couples with one daughter who sterilised or don’t want more children is the highest in Gurdaspur and Kapurthala (31.8%), lowest in Mansa (11.9%) and Faridkot (13.9%)
  • Such couples, who have two daughters, are the highest in Gurdaspur (65.9%), Jalandhar (58.2%) and lowest in Fatehgarh Sahib (21.1%), Moga (21.4%)

Panchkula best in Haryana

  • Family planners with only one daughter is the highest in Panchkula (43.4%), followed by Gurugram (41.9%), and the lowest in Fatehabad (10%).
  • Those with two daughters going in for planning are the highest in Rewari (66.7%) and Gurugram (66.7%) and the lowest in Karnal (24%) and Yamunanagar (27.9%).

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