India is said to be notorious for female infanticide. Sex-selective abortion and female foeticide (abortion of female foetuses) have given India one of the world’s most skewed sex ratios. According to the most recent census, in 2011 there were 914 girls to every 1,000 boys for children up to the age of six, but in some northern states that ratio dropped below 850.
In 2017, police in western Maharashtra state recovered 19 female foetuses from a sewer near a clinic. A doctor was arrested and charged with illegally aborting female foetuses for parents desperate for a boy. In January, a three-week-old baby girl was found buried alive in Rajasthan state after locals heard her crying from a shallow grave but died after a few weeks at a hospital.
Recently,a man had gone to bury his own daughter, who died a few minutes after birth, when his spade hit an earthen pot, only to find a newborn girl wrapped in a cloth and crying, buried alive. He immediately rescued her and asked for help and the infant was admitted to a nearby hospital where she is receiving treatment.
“At one point I thought that my daughter had come alive. But the voice was actually coming from the pot,” he said.
Indian government launched a national campaign to address the sex ratio with a renewed focus on enforcing laws that forbid sex-selective abortion and diagnostic techniques used for female foeticide, in addition to promoting girls’ education in 2015.
But experts say such campaigns have failed to engage men, who not only play a critical role in shaping attitudes towards girls but who are often the perpetrators forcing women to undergo a sex-selective abortion or sex selection drug.