Some content on this post are about sensitive issues happening around us. Please do not read further if you are not mature enough to handle it.
Prenatal sex determination was banned in India, under the Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.
India’s 2011 census shows a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven – activists fear eight million( 80,00,000 ) female fetuses may have been aborted between 2001 and 2011.
The 1994 ban on prenatal sex determination would have forced quite a few people to bring new life on this planet, without the discrimination to gender, but has it really achieved what it was originally meant to do!
2011 census is an eye-opener us all. It shows how efficient people have become in their hideous ways of brutality.
As if that wasn’t enough, two other practices had gained momentum after ban on prenatal sex determination.
- Sex selective Infanticide/Neonaticide – killing of a newborn female infant less than 24 hours old.
- Femicide – killing of women for various reasons, usually cultural.
And well who can forget the all time famous (notorious?)…
- Honor Killings – killing of a family member by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. Honor killings are directed mostly against women and girls, but have been extended to men.
You must be wondering why this post talks about this subject out of the blue; here is why:
Tribes surrounding Devarakonda, Andhra Pradesh (Map
), have been practicing Neonaticide, Femicide and Honor killings from years now.
One member of SCF (Mahesh
), brought up this topic during last weekend visit to Chandur
. He had already put some effort into trying to get one of the tribes to sane thinking till about 2 years ago.
We decided to go and check out the situation; hence the visit to Devarakonda – 4 sep 2011.
En-route tribal habitats - Devarakonda
What we found is absolutely shocking and bone chilling.
Word of mouth from few sensible locals of the village, who have been trying to stop this madness (We fortunately came across them) :
- After the 1994 ban, when the local village hospital stopped access to prenatal sex determination, people had become savages.
- They started killing ( that’s an understatement, I’d call it murdering ) their own just born girl child. Methods include:
– Forcing the infant to consume some kind of a poisonous seed.
– Drowning them in container of milk.
– Burying them alive.
– Smashing them to death with rocks, until the little life stopped twitching.
The Government tried to bring some order into the situation, trails were run, few people were convicted.
Few/most people understood that they would land into trouble if they killed infants. So what did they do then?
- They started throwing the just born infants in the sewage, abandoning them at the bus stops, leaving them on the roads, in the fields, on the rocks that burn hot in the sun or in some cases selling them!
The Government then extended Sishu Vihar programme (run by ICDS
), where in the local hospital put up an open-cradle for infants to be left there instead of killing or abandoning them wherever they can. The infants would be then moved to a local Sishu Vihar branch, where they are taken care of and given for adoption.
Open-Cradle at Devarakonda Hospital where people abandon their new born girl Child.
Local Sishu Vihar branch
This programme is running from last 5 months here and 82 babies have been dropped at the open-cradle till now; some are directly left at the local sishu vihar branch ( smart tribals? they have learnt where the babies go from the cradle )
Unfortunately, these so called smart asses aren’t smart enough in their decisions on the life of a girl child.
A girl child is looked upon to be a burden, a liability, a debt, a dishonor, a material, an object and what not!
The desire for male child for these tribals, has them completely blinded, turned them to animals ( No! wait. That would be an insult to animals….. they don’t distinguish between male/female. My apologies to the animal kingdom.).
Some of incidents that we came to know about:
- There is a couple in one of the tribes who have 13 children now. First 11 were girls, and their efforts for male child has been answered by God! , the 12 the delivery brought them male twins. They are now supposedly happy? I just hope they won’t sell their girl child for trafficking.
- In another case, a man argued during his trail in the court that he had sent his wife 10,000 rupees every month during her labor so that she can give birth to a male child. Now that she has wronged him by delivering a girl child, he doesn’t want her or the child!
- A third case, where a father had murdered his daughter while returning home from the local hospital ( may be after prenatal sex determination? ). He had smashed open her head with a boulder and then buried her; went home and had a goodnight’s sleep. Next day when the villagers asked about his daughter, he had to tell them what happened.
What would you expect? Was he taken to local police station? Naah..
The villagers decided that it wouldn’t bring “honor” to the village if a pregnant lady was buried along with a child in her womb. They all went to set things “right”. Dug out the body, used blades to cut out the belly, rip off the womb from the mother and buried both of them seperately.
The so called honor of the village was restored.
The mere narration of this incident had send chills down my spine. I can’t imagine what level of dark heart it takes to do it.
If you ask these tribals on why they do this, they cite financial problems as the reason for it. But, its known that the male child is taken care of in every possible way they can. Somehow the financial reasons take toll on their mind when its a girl child.
The Government, their welfare bodies, the doctors, have all tried telling them that this is wrong, but I guess it just doesn’t get to their ears.
This is where Saayam Cheddam Foundation plans to do something. We’ve realized that the key to this is education ( these tribals do not even know that producing a girl child isn’t mother’s doing). And not just plain education, but something in visual, something that they can relate with, something that won’t be given a deaf ear, something that should present case studies in visual format that says “Girls can and already do equal boys in earning livelihood. They are not liability.”
SCF members discussing with sensible local people in the Village.
One of the local persons that we met (mentioned earlier in this post) has already worked out a film on this issue, but has it unfinished due to budget. We thought it could be one good lead to start with.
SCF members looking at the road traveled; the roads that lead to people who kill their girl child.
Let’s see how things go, if we can make even a small difference, help save some innocent girl child lives. Time shall unfold.
More pics of visit –
Picasa – Nikon CoolPix L110
? – Sony Cybershot w570 ( Sorry, we do not have permissions to post these pics yet! )