RDS_190620 Father kills daughter 1-1561025646775
Picture for illustrative purpose: The man allegedly slammed his three-month-old daughter on to the ground leading to her death Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Another girl child has been killed in India, this time a three-month-old. Police today, in the state of West Bengal, arrested the father, Raju for allegedly killing the infant in an inebriated condition.

The man allegedly slammed his daughter on to the ground leading to her death, in Kolkata, on Thursday morning.

According to a report on the Indian news magazine, India Today’s website, the police said that Raju had come home drunk around 10.30am (Indian Standard Time) on Thursday, “and was caught in a heated argument with his wife Afsari”.

A Bengali news daily reported that during the argument between the couple, Raju’s attention suddenly shifted to Sultana who was playing on the bed and he approached her.

“Before his wife could understand, Raju started to twist the arms and legs of the infant. Soon after that, he slammed his own daughter on to the ground, killing her,” the daily reported.

The mother and the infant’s relatives rushed her to a hospital, but to no avail. Sultana was declared brought dead by hospital authorities.

Police said that during interrogation Raju said that he committed the crime as he was not happy with a female child.

Shocking? That’s not all.

Second case in a week

On Tuesday, a one-month-old baby girl in Karnataka’s Chikmagalur was strangled by her father who was unhappy on fathering a girl child. He was apparently advised by an astrologer to kill the child to have better fortune.

According to a report on the Indian media website The News Minute, the baby was named Niharika. And, the accused named Manjunath had frequent arguments with his wife over the newborn. He was arrested after his wife lodged a complaint with the police.

Girls: An ‘economic burden’ for many

In September last year, a global study on female infanticide by Asian Centre for Human Rights, a Delhi-based NGO (non-governmental organisation) dedicated to the protection of human rights, revealed that preference of a son over a daughter is a major reason for female infanticide in many countries around the world. Dowry system in South Asia, which makes daughters “an unaffordable economic burden”, also contributes to female infanticide.

The research titled Female Infanticide Worldwide: The case for action by the United Nations Human Rights Council makes a continent-wise analysis of infanticide patterns.

What is female infanticide?

Newborn baby
Image Credit: iStockphoto

Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of girl babies. It is also described as gender-selective killing or gendercide.

It is perhaps one of the worst forms of violence against women where a woman is denied her most basic and fundamental right or “the right to life”.

Gender ratio

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) notes that biologically, the normal sex ratio at birth (SRB) in a country should vary from 102 to 106 males per 100 females. India’s stands at 120 males/100 girls and that rate is among the highest in the world.

How does that matter? The Asian Centre for Human Rights in its 2016 report, titled Female Infanticide Worldwide noted: “The growing surplus of men has dire consequences for the human race, among others for causing trafficking of girls/women in the areas having shortage of women and these trafficked girls/women facing violence and discrimination.”

Missing female children

According to a 2019 report by the The Observer: “A 2011 study conducted by India’s Central Statistics Office under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme said that nearly three million girls went missing due to female infanticide. It’s estimated that 10 million female births (500,000 every year) have been aborted in India in the last 20 years.”

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Government schemes

The Indian government and child rights activists are fighting this issue persistently.

The national Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques (PNDT) Act of 1994, implemented in 1996, banned sex-selective abortions in the Indian states.

Financial benefit schemes such as the Balika Samridhi Yojana and Dhanalakshmi were introduced to encourage families to have the girl child. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 also made it possible for daughters to inherit their father’s property.

In January 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” (Save the girl child, educate girl child) campaign and said: “Our mental illness is responsible for this poor sex ratio. We give a lot of importance to boys. Many women also do this. But for how long will we look at girls as ‘paraya dhan’ (someone else’s property)? For every 1,000 boys born, 1,000 girls should also be born. I want to ask you if girls are not born, where will you get your daughters-in-law from?”

However, clearly, these schemes and laws are not enough.

Social media reacts

Newborn baby
Picture for illustrative purposes.

Twitter user @laurahollis61 shocked at similar reports about girl children posted: “Girls are not valued in India. Many are aborted, killed after birth, left to die or abandoned.”ߒ?ߘ?

@Shenaz10 added: “Someday there will be no more girls left in India ... either they are raped and killed or aborted ... girls lives matter.”

@BhaaratJai questioned if there was a way out. She wrote: “Wow. I guess girls don’t deserve to live in India. Either raped/killed or will commit suicide because of social pressure and torture. I mean is there any way out for us to live a safe and tension free life.”

And, to those who say feminism is unnecessary, @rybeaumont tweeted: “Just a reminder that babies are being KILLED because they are girls and not boys in India, but somehow we don’t need feminism ... we definitely still do.”

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