Abandoned babies in India are often little girls

  • Letters
  • Sunday, 18 Jul 2004

NEW DELHI: Discarded by her parents, a newborn baby stood little chance in life, but even in death there was no one to protect her from the beady eyes of crows. 

The stomach turns at the thought of how anyone can be so callous with their own flesh and blood as to leave a newborn wrapped in paper in a drain. Would the baby have met the same fate if she had not been an unfortunate girl but a male child? Unlikely. 

The story of a newborn abandoned by parents is not uncommon with a variety of possibilities as to why the child is discarded, starting from illegitimacy to poverty to the wrong sex. Abandoned babies, however, are quite often little girls. 

Even if other reasons are the cause of parents wanting to discard their babies, they will worry much more for a boy, because they have forsworn the option of selling him. Girls are not saleable. 

Even in Western countries, children are abandoned because parents are not married or that the mother is a teenager and too young to look after a baby. But there is rarely a gender bias to it. The increasing women-men ratio is adequate proof. 

However, in India, a girl is considered a burden, even after ceaseless campaigns and awareness programmes. Dowry is the biggest culprit. 

Sex determination tests and abortions of female foetuses have made the self-imposed burden of not giving birth to girls easier, particularly for the middle-classes. For proof, look at the increasing population ratio in favour of males in India. 

Attitudes towards girls have to change drastically. Women have proven in different fields that if given a chance they can be as good as, if not better, than male counterparts, but that is not the issue. Perhaps the only way to change societal attitudes radically is to provide special inheritance laws in favour of the daughter of the family. 

Once women hold the economic reins in the family, then female infanticide will automatically stop. But it is too radical a change for now. - The Statesman 

Asia News Network

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