Female foeticide: shame of modern India
Sagarika Roy | 31 Mar 2008

Brief summery: Killing of female foetus is on the rise in states like Rajasthan and Punjab. In 2006, 45.3 per cent more cases of foeticide have been detected than in 2005. The balance in birth rate equilibrium between male and female child is also at stak

Brief summery: Killing of female foetus is on the rise in states like Rajasthan and Punjab. In 2006, 45.3 per cent more cases of foeticide have been detected than in 2005. The balance in birth rate equilibrium between male and female child is also at stake.


Female foeticide: shame of modern India

Sagarika Roy

Sagarika 89 @ gmail.com


IN MAHABHARATA, Shanti Parva, Pitamaha (Great Grandfather) Vishma told Yudhisthira immediately after the great war of Kurukshetra was over, "The father, the mother and the preceptor, should never be insulted. No act of theirs should be found fault with. The gods and the great Rishis are pleased with him who behaves with reverence towards his preceptors. They that injure in thought and deed their preceptors, or fathers, or mothers, incur the sin of killing a foetus. There is no sinner in the world equal to them. That son of the sire's loins and the mother's womb, who, being brought up by them and when he comes of age, does not support them in his turn, incurs the sin of killing a foetus."

Perhaps a section of Indians today are unaware of the advice of this great Indian epic. Otherwise the startling facts on foetus killing, especially of girls, would not have been in the headlines. Is it believable that around 10 million girls have been killed by their parents -- either before or immediately after birth -- over the past 20 years? Can a civilized society believe the news published in 2007 that the police discovered 30 polythene bags stuffed with the body parts of female foetuses and newly born babies in an abandoned well near a clinic in eastern India? Should we repose our faith on Central government statistics that in 2006 125 cases of foetus killing have been detected which is 45.3 per cent more than 2005?

We have to believe because these are all facts and despite having an Act and massive awareness campaign throughout the country, foetus identification and killing in case of girl foetus have not stopped. And surprisingly, Rajasthan and Punjab, two most wealthy states in the country tops the list of murdering girl fetuses.

A few days before India's 60th Independence Day celebrations, government officials in Punjab, the birthplace of the great Sikh religion and Bhangra music as well, discovered dozens of female foetuses dumped in an unused well in a town called Patran. A quack, formerly serving in the Indian army, along with his wife, had been running an illegal maternity clinic. Being assisted by a team of nurses, he determined the sex of their foetuses and aborted the female ones if the parents so desired. The foetuses were secretly thrown in the well.

India has stepped in the new millennium with lots of hopes and all pervasive progress – in education, in industrialization, in economic regeneration, in social upliftment, in religious integration and above all in humanistic approach. India is now being predicted the future leader of the world and the pragmatic and analytical minds are eyeing the upcoming days with optimistic minds.

But unfortunately, when an Indian woman is appointed the CEO of the MNC PepsiCo, when thousands of Indian women are successfully maintaining their families with their own honest earning, the sinful incidents of girl foetus killing has not stopped, rather it is on the increase in some parts of the country either openly or secretly.


According to Jain learning, "Abortion is definitely a murder of Jjva (Life). It's the murder of a Jiva (Life) with five senses. Foetus killing, be a male foetus or female foetus, it's the killing of a breathing unborn live child. Do not be in this belief that after pregnancy, life comes in the foetus after some months. And before it, it is only lifeless flesh. The truth is that first the Jiva enters into the womb and then its body and limbs are created. Slowly it grows there and after and nine months difficult meditation and long wait puts its feet in this world. When it takes birth from the womb of the mother, it is nine months old. The time of birth is not the first day of its age but it's the day of it coming into the mother's womb. When any Jiva enters into this world, first its Atma (soul) enters and then its body starts being created."

Jainism advices , "Keep in mind, if you have killed the son or daughter by abortion, then you have not merely killed a boy or a girl, but a future Muni, a future Acharya, has been killed, because, it may be that soul could have in future become a Muni, an Acharya and would have preached for wellbeing. If you have killed a girl child in abortion, then think that you have killed a Mahasati like Chandan Bala, Mahasati like Sita, Trishala like mother of Tirthankara, because every soul enters this universe with many possibilities. It is, therefore, possible that that girl, that daughter could have established ideals of Chandan Bala and Sita, given birth to sons like Acharya Kundkund and Acharya Shanti Sagar, could have become reverend Aaryikas."

Killing female embryos is an unacknowledged practice in Indian society just because in some of Indian states like Rajasthan and Punjab, a girl is unwelcome 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. 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.


The rising trend of abortion of girl foetus has been fueled after the technology for sex determination of the foetus came to the fore. Sex determination techniques through ultra-sonography and amniocentesis are banned in India, but female foetuses are still commonly killed in some regions because the illegal practice of sex determination has not stopped.

Parents who are responsible for the growth of a foetus are turned into murderers knowing well that they are not only stamped as killers, they are disturbing the balance of male female birth rate ratio. Over the last four decades, the child sex ratio has been declining, with the sharpest fall from 1981 onwards. A 2001 census found there were 927 girls for every 1,000 boys in the age group of six-years-old or below, compared to 945 to 1,000 in 1991. This is continuing over the last four decades, the child sex ratio has been declining, with a sharpest fall from 1981 onwards. The fact remains that the men-women equilibrium will be lost within a few decades.

Unfortunately, the 'criminal' parents are desperate even to face the legal course of action because they know that there have been only two convictions -- a fine of 300 rupees and another fine of 4,000 rupees -- from over 400 cases lodged under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. They also know that the authorities have been slow to implement legislation enacted in 1996.

Should we continue with this practice? Should our media remain silent over the issue as it is today? Shouldn't we feel ashamed and cover our face for the sin, for the crime we are committing?


If we do feel, it should stop, let us be vibrant and come out with all our strength against it. And if we remain silent, let us commit suicide to cover the shame of foeticide.