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Missing: 40 million Indian Women

What can be done to stop this Genocide.


Missing: 40 million Indian Women

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 State.


The Infamous Seven

Child Sex Ratio in the States and Union Territories



0-6 Sex Ratio












































The changing profile


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% cases.


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 their daughters?



Dear Mommy,

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 unhappy.

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 didn't stop.

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.

                                                        Your Baby Girl


(copy of letter circulating in the Internet)


Causes of female foeticide


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 girl.


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?


  • Religion: which says that the greatest good deed a woman can do is to give birth to a boy.
  • People: who go for SD and Abortion.
  • Doctors: who do Sex Determination and Abortion.



What can be done?


  • Religious 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?
  • People: 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.
  • Government:
    • 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.
    • Reward 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 3.30pm at Cheshire Home. Together we can and we will make a difference!



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From: I read your pointsg and was jealous
I read your pointsg and was jealous

From: veenita dar
I completely agree with your article. The common misconception amongst people I interact with (namely women colleagues from Delhi/Punjab) is that Bihar is a barbarious state and treats women badly because dowry id asked for.Dowry system in Bihar is not a secret while in most of the north Indian states is covertly practised (the people pretend to be civilized and look down on Biharis!).In Bihar where dowry is concerned a list of demands is produced before the wedding--if this does not suit the girls' family the wedding is not solemnised( this doesn't mean that there aren't families who dont take dowry). Whereas in these so-called enlightenened states the demands are made after the wedding --thus this is a case of cheating and taking advantage of an unsuspecting family. So much so that in festivals like karva-chauth (practised in the northern states) presents have to be given to the husbands mother by the daughter in law(apparently the daughter in law is so grateful that the mother in law produced a husband for her!). This is not the end--in traditional families the 'tehraveen' of the son in laws parents is funded by the girls' side! No wonder a daughter is not wanted as it entails lifelong expenses from the girls side. The Punjabis pretentend to be emancipated when they say "we dont let our girls touch the feet--as they are 'devis' on the other hand they are happy to let daughters in law touch their feet--implying other peoples daughters are not 'devis' You will see that all bride burning cases happen in Delhi and Punjab and not in Bihar. Women in the eastern states have an equal or more say in the household--you should see the respect with which the daughter in laws are treated. Once a girl is married in Bihar her husband behaves as the son of the house taking up responsibilities on his wife's behalf towards her family.While in Punjab 'sasuralwalas' bend bachwards to please the ever-so-demanding 'damad'.