Denunciations have succeeded one another for years but in India the slaughter of female fetuses and newborn baby girls continues to be a reality. Indeed, selective abortions and the infanticide of baby girls are on the increase, especially in urban areas, overcoming barriers of caste, class, community and even the north-south divide. Only think that the Indian Medical Association estimates that five million female fetuses are aborted every year. A new and passionate denunciation now comes from Sr Devadoss Joseph Margaret, a doctor and religious of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. “The most alarming fact”, she declared, “is that selective abortion prevails even among the highest social classes. Another form of female homicide consists in the intentional infanticide of a girl child in the first year of her life; if the little one survives the feticide she is abandoned or thrown out among the refuse or in the rubbish dumps. Some are burnt alive, others are poisoned, others by contrast are killed by the application of poison to the mother’s breast. And we know further of little girls who are sold, tortured and beaten. All this wickedness is due to the extreme longing for a male child which is widespread among certain segments of our society”. Girl children who survive are in any case penalized: they are deprived of education, subject to work as minors, to forced marriage, to violence and to every kind of harassment. “To put an end to female feticide and infanticide, to free harassed little girls and to promote their general well-being we must first of all stop the tests that make sexual selection possible. Secondly, we must create an atmosphere in which every unborn child is welcomed without any gender prejudice. Thirdly, we must remember that no society can thrive when half its population is constantly treated in a manner inferior to the way the other half is treated. Fourthly: no written law will be of any use if we, as a society do not stop denying women the dignity, freedom and opportunities to which they are entitled. And above all, we must begin viewing them as a heritage”.
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