In the feel-happy planet that is India, where the most powerful politician is an Italy-born woman and where the newspapers are ecstatic over the appointment of an India-born woman as PepsiCo's CEO, there has emerged a news-spoiler that has not been greatly highlighted in the country's media.
This is surprising since the news is revolting and the Indian news channels are constantly in quest of sensational news items to hike up their television ratings.
A few days before India's 60th Independence Day celebrations, government officials in Punjab, one of the wealthiest states of India and also the birthplace of Bhangra music, discovered dozens of female fetuses dumped in an unused well in a town called Patran.
A quack, formerly serving in the Indian army, and along with his wife, was running an illegal maternity clinic where, assisted by a team of nurses, he 'helped' expectant parents determine the sex of their fetuses and aborted the female ones if the parents so desired. The fetuses were secretly thrown in the well.
Allegedly, this killing of would-be girls had been carried out for a number of years. The quack had established the clinic in 1987. It was only earlier this month when one of the nurses, upset over her salary, reported the matter to the authorities. The decomposed remains of placentas and fetuses were discovered in the well and the killings became public knowledge.
The news did not shake the nation. Why?
Daughters Are Not Lovely
Killing female embryos is an unacknowledged practice in Indian society. Everyone knows it is a crime and perhaps morally wrong, too. There are many who do not fall for it, but still it is acceptable. Just be quiet about it, please.
It is also true that many Indians love their daughters as much as their sons, yet the birth of a girl is an undesirable occasion in many families. Girls are seen as a burden on the household, a bundle of shame, and a thankless responsibility. They are perceived as offspring who, unlike the sons, would not carry on the family's name. Instead, a great amount of money would have to be arranged for their wedding dowries, which would benefit the homes of their husband's families.
Remember, in spite of being on the verge of becoming an Information Technology superpower, India also happens to have vast swaths of land that share commonalities with the most wretched parts of the sub-Saharan Africa. There are a good number of poor parents who cannot afford to raise a daughter.
Different Techniques to Kill Daughters
India is perhaps the only civilization that worships God in woman-form, too. That still doesn’t stop many countrymen from killing their own daughters. Earlier baby daughters were killed by smothering, making them lick poison, or simply by not feeding them. Last year in the month of August, again in Punjab, a newspaper highlighted the report of a girl child being abandoned on a highway by her parents.
India has started shining. Developments in medical technology are more accessible. It is easier to avoid guilt complex by an early detection of the sex of the fetus, thanks to ultrasound technology, and opting for abortion, if it is a girl, in a safe, clean, and clinical process.
A Silver Lining
It is illegal in India to determine the gender of the fetus of a pregnant woman. Unfortunately the practice is discreet and willing doctors are easy to contact through word-of-mouth publicity.
However, in March 2006, a doctor and his assistant were sentenced to two years in jail for revealing the sex of a female fetus and then consenting to abort it. This was the first time medical professionals were jailed in such a case.
A Great Nation's Secret Shame
India is a great civilization and a confident country that aspires to become one of the leading nations of the world. It will never achieve this dream until it learns to appreciate the value of a woman as the same of a man.
The good news is that a willing acceptance of daughters is not impossible to arrive at in this conservative country. The newspaper that reported the baby girl was abandoned on the highway also mentioned that a poor couple adopted the baby. The couple happily boasted of already having four biological daughters!