[Ciara O’Neill, Human Rights News Contributor]
[Tinaki Roy, Asia News Contributor]
BBC News: The latest data from the Indian National Census have shown gender discrimination in India to have gone horrifically off the rails as it seems that in the past ten years, more that eight million female babies have been killed by their parents under the noses and apparent consent of the Indian authorities.
The recent Indian census figures show a sharp decline in the number of girls under seven which cannot be explained in any other way than by mass abortions of female fetuses and/or manslaughter of female babies. Compared to 1961, the proportion of 975 girls on 1000 boys has dropped to around a small 913 on 1000.
However, for those who might think that a difference by less than a hundred might be caused by certain non-violent factors, here are some facts.
As stated in the recent National Census report data, ‘out of 133,738 births, in families where the first child was a girl, the ratio of girls to boys among second children was 759 girls per 1,000 boys’. Furthermore, according to a UNICEF case study in 1984 in Bombay, ‘7,999 out of 8,000 of the aborted fetuses were females.’ Understandably therefore, the female abortion business seems to have long roots in modern India, and for a reason.
According to professor Shirish Sheth of Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai: “Daughters are regarded as a liability…Because she will eventually belong to the family of her future husband, expenditure on her will benefit others. In some communities where the custom of dowry prevails, the cost of her dowry could be phenomenal.”
Kulwant, a middle-aged Indian housewife, is one of the many who can testify that due to the development of ultrasound technology which enables the early identification of the sex of fetuses, female babies’ abortions have become quite a normal event in any Indian woman’s life. The costs of the abortion varies from a couple of hundred US dollars in the best Delhi clinics, up to four dollars in increasingly shabby legal and illegal institutions that enable the majority to afford it at decreasing prices, but steadily growing health risks. Effectively, she had to abort three daughters in order to avoid divorce.
Before her fourth child – a son- was born, she had to suffer regular beatings from her husband and once, she says, even his family tried to burn her alive for ‘bringing financial girl-related trouble upon the house’.