A father to five girls may have caused the death of his preborn son after he allegedly cut open the belly of his wife to find out if she was expecting a boy.
The mother was in a critical condition when she was taken to a hospital in India’s capital, Delhi, where doctors fought to save her life and that of her unborn child.
Following medical intervention, the mother is reportedly in a stable condition.
However, during the ordeal, she sadly gave birth to a stillborn boy.
It is believed the 35-year-old, known locally as Anita Devi, was seven months pregnant at the time of the attack.
Her family have accused her husband, named only as Pannalal, of attacking his spouse because he wanted to find out the baby’s gender.
Her sister told BBC Hindi that the couple used to fight regularly over having a son before she was attacked.
Ms Devi’s brother agreed, telling the Times of India: “My brother-in-law often used to beat my sister for giving birth to five daughters. Our parents had intervened on several occasions. But no one imagined that he would take such a cruel step.”
“When I reached there, I saw blood everywhere. Anita’s stomach was slit, and she told me that her husband did this.”
Police have arrested Pannalal on charges of attempted murder, but the 43-year-old denies the charges and claims he didn’t intentionally hurt his wife.
He told local media that he threw a sickle at his wife during an argument, but claims he had no idea that she would be injured so gravely.
A police investigation is ongoing.
Millions of lives lost
Despite outlawing sex-selective abortion and pre-natal sex detection in 1994, sex-selective abortion and infanticide remain common practice in India due to the cultural preference for male children.
New research indicates the lives of almost 5 million baby girls in India will be lost over the next decade due to the prevalent use of sex-selective abortions.
A recent report from India’s Government also found an estimated 63 million women were “missing” from the country’s population.
Census data from 2011 showed there were 919 girls to every 1,000 boys for children up to the age of six. In some northern states that ratio was as low as 830, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The World Health Organization says the natural sex ratio at birth is about 105 boys to every 100 girls.
An investigation was launched in a district of northern India last year after government data revealed none of the 216 children born across 132 villages over three months were girls.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has described female foeticide and infanticide as a “national shame” and called for a “crusade” to save girls.
Current Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also advised Indians “not to hanker after sons” and not “kill the daughters in the hope of a boy”.
Five years ago, he launched Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save daughter, educate daughter) – a campaign seeking to save girls.