Abuse case points to plight of baby girls in India

.- The case of a two year-old baby girl in India who was unconscious and covered in human bites when admitted to a local hospital is bringing attention to the issue of sex-selective abortions in the country.

Carlos Polo, director of the Office for Latin America of the Population Research Institute, told CNA on Feb. 17 that this kind of abuse shows the effects that abortions based on gender discrimination have on society.

He noted that sex-selective abortions “have been practiced for decades to eliminate unborn baby girls in India and in many countries where the culture exalts the birth of a son but disparages the birth of a daughter.”

India’s Ministry of the Interior has launched an investigation into the incident after two-year-old baby Falak (whose name means sky) was taken to a hospital in New Delhi on Jan. 18 with bruises on her head, broken limbs and human bite marks on her body.

A doctor caring for the baby at a New Delhi hospital told CNN on Feb. 11 that medical staff is unsure if she will survive and that she will most likely sustain permanent brain damage if she does.

“What was done to this girl is very similar to what is done to a woman who is expecting a baby girl,” Polo said.

The Population Research Institute's bulletin from Dec. 14, 2011, reported practices that take place when a family member is pregnant with a baby girl. “Her husband and relatives push her, kick her in the stomach, and deny her food, water and rest, all for the purposes of bringing about an abortion,” the institute said.

Dr. Sunita Puri, who is from India and works in San Francisco, said that she has seen many women in her practice pregnant with baby boys and unable to overcome the guilt they feel for not being able to save their baby girls in previous pregnancies.

She interviewed 65 immigrants for one study who chose to select the sex of their unborn baby. Published in 2011 in the journal Social Science and Medicine, her study found that “a surprising 89 percent of women pregnant with girls had abortions during the study, and almost half had already aborted a baby girl before.”

Despite the recent wave of negative publicity that has focused the public’s attention on these crimes, Polo said, “One can still find ads for abortion clinics offering sex-selective abortions in newspapers such as the New York Times.”

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