Father of five girls cuts wife’s stomach resulting in stillbirth of baby

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. 

‘National shame’

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.

MP calls for end to sex-selective abortion in Canada

A bill seeking to ban sex-selective abortion is gaining momentum in Canada, ahead of International Day of the Girl on 11 October. 

Introduced in February, by Cathy Wagantall MP, the Sex Selective Abortion Act would prohibit medical professionals from performing abortions “knowing that the abortion is sought solely on the grounds of the child’s genetic sex.”

The Yorkton-Melville MP said: “in a country which seeks to foster equality between men and women, the practice of using abortion for sex selection needs to be prohibited”

This bill represents the third time in the past eight years that MPs have attempted to ban sex-selective in Canada. The last attempt was put forward by Wagantall in 2016, but was defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 209-76. 

According to Wagantall and a poll in the National Post, the difficulties the bills have faced is not due to a lack of public support, but rather parliamentarians on all sides being unwilling to discuss and debate laws regarding abortion. 

“Canadians of nearly all beliefs are united on this issue, with 84 percent stating that sex-selective abortion should be illegal,” she said.

“This is reasonable common ground that every Member of Parliament must thoughtfully consider.”

“If just one girl is aborted simply because of her sex, parliamentarians must act.”

Growing support in British Columbia

Recently, the Yorkton-Melville MP was joined by MPs Tamara Jensen and Tako Van Popta at Pink Flag Display events to raise awareness of sex-selective abortion.

The three events, which displayed hundreds of pink flags to represent missing female births, were arranged to show support of the bill in alliance with DefendGirls.com, an initiatve of pro-life group We Need a Law. 

In a post on Facebook, Jensen posted photos of the event commenting, “I believe politicians of all political stripes should be willing to stand up for women and girls, and oppose this practice!”

Since amending its abortion law in 1988, sex-selective abortion has become a major issue in Canada.

An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal describes how “easy access to abortion and advances in prenatal sex determination have combined to make Canada a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favour of having sons…”.

A global issue

Sex-selective abortion is a well-documented problem in countries around the world, resulting in highly skewed sex ratios.

Despite laws banning pre-natal sex detection and sex-selective abortion in India, it is estimated that 6.8 million girls will be aborted between 2017 and 2030.

This is in addition to a report from India’s Government that revealed an estimated 63 million women were already “missing” from the country’s population.

Evidence of sex-selective abortions has been found in the Australian territory of Victoria, which introduced abortion on request in 2008.

Following the law change in Victoria, Dr Mark Hobart was investigated by the Medical Board of Victoria for failing to refer a woman for a sex-selective abortion. Additionally, Australian broadcaster SBS revealed there are higher numbers of boys than girls being born in some ethnic communities in Australia.

A recent study from La Trobe University, analysing more than a million births in Victoria, suggests some parents could be aborting unborn female babies in order to have a son.

Sex-selective abortion in the UK

In the UK, shadow Minister Naz Shah has previously called for the Government to stop the misuse of Non-invasive Prenatal Test (NiPT) after evidence emerged they were being used to abort pregnancies based on gender.

The Labour MP said: “The government needs to look into this exploitative practice and enforce appropriate restrictions.”

However, Ms Shah is presumably okay with disability-selective abortions as she also said: “NIPT screenings should be used for their intended purpose, to screen for serious conditions and Down’s syndrome.”Polling, conducted by Savanta ComRes, showed 89% of the general population and 91% of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.

Sex-selective abortions in India could lead to the abortion of 5 million girls over the next decade

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, according to new research.

Academics at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia estimate the average annual number of “missing female births” will be 469,000 from 2017 to 2025 and 519,000 from 2026 to 2030, resulting in around 6.8 million lives lost.

Over the next decade, between 2020 and 2030, this would mean the lives of 4,890,000 baby girls would be lost to abortion – an average of more than 1,338 every day.

Anuradha Saxena, a member of the women’s empowerment division for Sikar district, in Rajasthan, told the Guardian that the figures came as no surprise to her. 

“It will take time to remove deep-rooted custom and belief. Progress is slow and incremental but we are working on making girls valued and cherished instead of being seen as a liability who needs a huge dowry to be married off,” she said.

Fengqing Chao and her team modelled the sex ratio at birth across 98% of India’s population, along with fertility rates and national survey data on people’s preferences to have a son or daughter.

The model predicted that there would be 6.8 million “missing female births” across India between 2017 and 2030. The prediction started with 2017 as this is the year after the most recent birth data was published.

India’s missing female births over the next 10 years could have a significant impact on the global sex ratio, since the UN predicts that India will overtake China to become the world’s most populous country in that time period.

‘No girl born in three months’

Despite outlawing sex-selective abortion and pre-natal sex detection in 1994, sex-selective abortion and infanticide remain common practice due to the cultural preference for male children.

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.

Last year, it was revealed out of 216 births across dozens of villages in northern India, over a 3 month period, not a single girl was born.

Social worker Kalpana Thakur said at the time that the authorities were not doing enough.

“No girl child was born for three months in these villages. It cannot be just a coincidence. This clearly indicates female foeticide is taking place in the district. The government and the administration are not doing anything.”

Sex-selective abortion: A worldwide problem

Sex-selective abortion is a well-documented problem in countries around the world, resulting in highly skewed sex ratios.

Since amending its abortion law in 1998, sex-selective abortions have become a major issue in Canada.

An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal describes how “easy access to abortion and advances in prenatal sex determination have combined to make Canada a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favour of having sons…”.

Similarly, evidence of sex-selective abortions has been found in the Australian territory of Victoria, which introduced abortion on request in 2008.

Following the law change in Victoria, Dr Mark Hobart was investigated by the Medical Board of Victoria for failing to refer a woman for a sex-selective abortion. Additionally, an investigation by Australian broadcaster SBS found higher numbers of boys than girls being born in some ethnic communities in Australia.

A recent study from La Trobe University, analysing more than a million births in Victoria, suggests some parents could be aborting unborn female babies in order to have a son.

In the UK, shadow Minister Naz Shah has previously called for the Government to stop the misuse of Non-invasive Prenatal Test (NiPT) after evidence emerged they were being used to abort pregnancies based on gender.

The Labour MP said: “The government needs to look into this exploitative practice and enforce appropriate restrictions.”

However, Ms Shah is presumably okay with disability-selective abortions as she also said: “NIPT screenings should be used for their intended purpose, to screen for serious conditions and Down’s syndrome.”

Polling, conducted by Savanta ComRes, showed 89% of the general population and 91% of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.