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Paul John & Radha Sharma, TNN | Jul 25, 2013,

GANDHINAGARInfant girls in the 0-12 months age group are unsafe in urban Gujarat. The online data on infant deaths put out by Gujarat’s chief registrar of births and deaths for the last three years reveals that urban areas have registered deaths of 12,325 infant girls and 8,076 infant boys.

Ironically, in rural Gujarat, while 2,739 boys didn’t live till their first birthday, the corresponding figure for girls was 2,246. According to 2011 census, urban population ofGujarat is 2.57 crore, while rural population is 3.47 crore. Places with one lakh and above population are considered as urban areas.

The data has experts foxed as there is no reason why the girl child, considered a stronger sex, should be a bigger casualty in urban centres which have better medical facilities compared to rural areas. The data, experts say, reveals a deeper malaise in society where the sex ratio of births is already skewed.

“I am not surprised by these figures. There’s marked discrimination when it comes to medical treatment of daughters in the lower middle class and urban poor,” said Dr Ashish Mehta, a consultant neo-natal specialist at VS Hospital here.

Dr Mehta recalled the recent case of a new born girl weighing 1.8 kg who had septicemia and had to be put on ventilator. But the family took the baby away saying they could not afford to spend thousands in saving the life of a girl.

For a boy, the poor are ready to go the extra mile in most cases. Pediatrician in Maninagar Dr Mona Desai says she often finds parents are reluctant to incur significant financial expenditure for a girl, while for sons, most are ready to sell off jewellery and even mortgage their homes!

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