Killing a full-term embryo in the mother’s womb used to be an everyday occurrence among the Gujerati Patels some time ago. It was common practice to kill a new born baby girl by drowning her in a bowl of boiling milk during the era of the Living God of Gujarat, Lord Shree Swaminarayan. At that time they were mostly Kathis who were doing it to avoid the heavy expenses during and after the girl’s marriage. But, by the tireless efforts of Lord Swaminarayan, it came to nearly an end.
In modern days, a woman seven months pregnant undergoes screening by ultra-sound and if the foetus is that of a girl, it will be aborted by any means. Girls are seen as a burden in the community as their husbands are bought with huge dowries.
If the parents are unable to raise the dowry demanded by their future in-laws on time, the girl will suffer for it. She will be beaten, tortured and even strangled or burned to death by her in-laws. Then the case is very cunningly proved to be an accident, or even suicide. Some of these wicked parents-in-laws are taken to task and punished for their deeds by imprisonment. Sometimes, the girls are insulted, tortured and then forced back on their parents until they can arrange for the dowries to be paid.
It is very difficult for parents with a number of daughters to get them married into reasonably good families. The poorer classes have no choice as it is very difficult for them to raise the amounts demanded as dowries.
So many parents, who discover that their expected infant is a female, make the decision to destroy the foetus by any means possible. A woman who gives birth to a baby girl is not respected in the family. Girls have no status among such societies. Some parents who have daughters educate them to a particular standard and then leave them free to choose any boy as their husband from any community, as long as he does not demand a dowry from them. This is common among destitute parents.
Girls are burdensome to them and the boys are fortunate for them. All possible precautions are taken to avoid the birth of a girl whereas on the other side all possible steps are taken to have a male child.
However, Foeticide is a crime and a great sin in religious terms. It should be never allowed and it is high time the Government should pass a strict law against the evil. The screening of the gender should not be allowed and the persons going for it including the doctor should be penalized heavily without any favour or mercy.