Over the last two decades India has made rapid strides, economic prosperity has
grown, per capita income has increased, medical facilities have improved,
roads have reached the formerly inaccessible villages, education has
improved, women’s education has increased, women’s empowerment has gained
ground, yet sadly the incidence of female foeticide has also dramatically
increased. India today stands second, next only to China, in the list of countries with female foeticide.
Improving medical facilities have resulted in more and more Indians killing
their own unborn daughters.
A 2007 UN estimate puts at
2000 the number of females killed in the womb every single day in India. If you extrapolate it over a period of 20yrs, the
number of missing Indian women stands at 40 million!
It is a matter of great
shame that Uttarakhand stands 7th in the list of states with
declining populations (see table). Given this, it is ironical to see the
present Government passing a Cow Protection Act within a month of its coming
to power and taking no visible action to protect the unborn daughters of the
The Infamous Seven
Child Sex Ratio in the
States and UnionTerritories
0-6 Sex Ratio
When most of us think of
female foeticide we imagine a desperate women being forcibly taken to the
operation theatre by the mother in law against her will, crying for days
after that & longing for her lost daughter. Unfortunately this is only
part of fiction now. Recent surveys in Delhi and Punjab have shown that this is the case in less than 1%
The decision to undergo
abortion is usually taken in two stages. In the first stage the husband and
wife without telling the husband’s parents undergo sex determination by
Ultrasound. In the second stage, if the fetus is found to be a female, then
the parents are taken into confidence and abortion carried out. In case of
accidental pregnancies usually the parents are not taken into confidence nor
Ultrasound carried out.
Another common myth is that
uneducated and poor people get foeticide done to save dowry money. Surveys
have shown that foeticide is most prevalent in middle and upper class
educated families, where dowry is never an issue. The richest states in India have the highest foeticide rate. Uttarakhand with
72% female literacy, much above the national average of 42%, is one of the
most active states in murdering its unborn daughters. The comparatively
illiterate and poor states like UP and Bihar have one fourth rate of female foeticide as compared to Uttarakhand.
Why then do people murder
I am in Heaven now... I so
wanted to be your little girl. I don't quite understand what has happened. I
was so excited when I began realizing my existence. I was in a dark, yet
comfortable place. I saw I had fingers and toes. I was pretty far along in my
developing, yet not near ready to leave my surroundings. I spent most of my
time thinking or sleeping. Even from my earliest days, I felt a special
bonding between you and me.
Sometimes I heard you crying and I cried with you. Sometimes you would yell
or scream, then cry. I heard Daddy yelling back. I was sad, and hoped you
would be better soon. I wondered why you cried so much. One day you cried
almost all of the day. I hurt for you. I couldn't imagine why you were so
That same day, the most horrible thing happened. A very mean monster came
into that warm, comfortable place I was in. I was so scared, I began
screaming, but you never once tried to help me. Maybe you never heard me. The
monster got closer and closer as I was screaming and screaming, "Mommy,
Mommy, help me please; Mommy, help me." Complete terror is all I felt. I
screamed and screamed until I thought I couldn't anymore. Then the monster
started ripping my arms off. It hurt so bad; the pain I can never explain. It
Oh, how I begged it to stop. I screamed in horror as it ripped my leg off.
Though I was in such complete pain, I was dying. I knew I would never see
your face or hear you say how much you love me. I wanted to make all your
tears go away. I had so many plans to make you happy. Now I couldn't; all my
dreams were shattered. Though I was in utter pain and horror, I felt the pain
of my heart breaking, above all. I wanted more than anything to be your
daughter. No use now, for I was dying a painful death. I could only imagine
the terrible things that they had done to you. I wanted to tell you that I
love you before I was gone, but I didn't know the words you could understand.
And soon, I no longer had the breath to say them; I was dead. I felt myself
rising. I was being carried by a huge angel into a big beautiful place. I was
still crying, but the physical pain was gone. The angel took me away to a
wonderful place... Then I was happy. I asked the angel what was the thing was
that killed me. He answered, "Abortion". I am sorry, for I know how
it feels." I don't know what abortion is; I guess that's the name of the
monster. I'm writing to say that I love you and to tell you how much I wanted
to be your little girl. I tried very hard to live. I wanted to live. I had
the will, but I couldn't; the monster was too powerful. It sucked my arms and
legs off and finally got all of me. It was impossible to live. I just wanted
you to know I tried to stay with you. I didn't want to die. Also, Mommy,
please watch out for that abortion monster. Mommy, I love you and I would
hate for you to go through the kind of pain I did. Please be careful.
Love, Your Baby Girl
(copy of letter circulating in the Internet)
Causes of female
The most important cause of
female foeticide is the deeply ingrained longing in Indian minds for a male heir.
Hindu religion directly espouses for a male child. Blessings given to a lady
for e.g. “Putravati bhava” ,treating
daughters as burdens which can only be lessened by doing donating her in
“Kanya dan”, last rites being done by sons only etc all directly point to the
need of a son.
The perceived need to keep
family wealth in the family leads to a desire for a male offspring.
Most of the people now
understand that rearing children is expensive. This has been reinforced by
the “Ham do, hamare do” campaign over the last decade, showing a daughter and
a son, but never two daughters. So, the economic necessity of keeping the
family small yet having one of them a boy, leads to abortion of the second
girl child. If recent reports are to be believed, couples now prefer to
undergo Sex Determination in the first pregnancy itself and abort if it’s a
Even if the wife does not
care about the sex of the baby, social pressures on her to undergo repeated
pregnancies till the birth of a boy, forces her to undergo SD and abortion.
“I will not die till I see the face of my grandson” is a line often heard.
Similarly pressures of the second marriage of her husband to get a son,
forces women to undergo repeated pregnancies and SD.
Who is to blame?
which says that the greatest
good deed a woman can do is to give birth to a boy.
who go for SD and Abortion.
who do Sex Determination and Abortion.
What can be done?
leaders: must step forwards
and correct this gender bias. If VHP can go on a nation wide agitation
against Ram Setu dredging and Valentine’s Day, why can’t it take similar
offensive against Female Foeticide?
who have only daughters should
be highlighted by the community and press. They could receive grants
from the Government if they are not well off. People who attempt to get
SD done should be exposed by the media. At present the media shows the
doctor who performs foeticide and the hospital where it is carried out
but blurs the face of the woman. Are both not equally to blame?
Doctors: should tighten their own belt and self
regulate. A few black sheep spoil the name of the whole profession. Ways
and means should be found out by doctors to bring the guilty to book.
Time is running out, if they don’t act now, others will step in.
Enforce the PNDT Act strictly.
Stop over the counter sale of medicines meant
for abortion. In all
civilized countries such medicines are dispensed only by the
Gynaecologist in her clinic to the patient and are not available for
general sale. Like the Psychotropic and Narcotic Substances Act, such
medicines should only be sold on the advice of a Gynaecologist and a
photocopy of the prescription kept for six months and failure to keep
it should be a non-bailable offence. Presently hundreds of such
medicines are freely sold all over Dehra Dun daily and widely misused. With an MRP of Rs
370/- and a wholesale price of Rs 150/- per tablet of MTPill of Cipla
for example, there is an added incentive to sell it.
Hire a Consultancy Service to collect
Statistics of all D&C’s and MTP’s carried out in the state and
assess the rate of female foeticide. No study has ever been carried out
in the State to assess the magnitude of the problem.
Start a toll free state wide Mahila
helpline number, which should respond to all calls of foeticide and
abuse of females, in general. It should also receive calls from Doctors
who find couples wanting to go in for Sex Determination.
those giving information about foeticide. Put up posters informing
people about the reward.
Prosecute those involved in foeticide. Government employees should be
sacked if found indulging in SD, including doctors. Other people should
loose their Ration Cards and be debarred from getting any Government
aid or contract.
Who can prevent it?
Each one of us has the capacity to prevent foeticide in
our city. If you are disturbed after reading this article and want to do
something, please call the author at 9997400303 JUST NOW or join us in a
meeting of concerned people on Sunday,
23rd September 2007 at
at Cheshire Home. Together we can and we will make a difference!