Indian father accused of killing his baby “because he was a girl”
Highlights of history
Indian accused of killing 3-month-old girl because he wanted a son
United Nations says India’s most dangerous place for a girl
It is common to abort female babies because boys are considered “better investments”
For every 1,000 boys aged 6 and under, there are 914 girls – the lowest ratio since 1947
Reshma Banu, 19, sits on the stairs in front of her parents’ house looking at the small screen of her cell phone.
The video on the screen fascinates her: a very short personal video of her granddaughter, Afreen.
The captured moments are precious because they show Banu’s only child alive and well.
Afreen died in the hospital. She was three months old.
Authorities say the baby was admitted to hospital with bite marks, cigarette burns and a dislocated neck. Police say she was killed by her father.
“After I gave birth, my husband came to see me and the baby. He said, ‘It’s a girl, why did you give birth to a girl?’ ”
He wanted a boy, an heir. Girls were too expensive, he said. A few days after giving birth, Banu says her husband issued an ultimatum.
“For her wedding, we will need one hundred thousand rupees (approximately US $ 1,800) for all expenses. If you can get that amount from your mother, keep her, but if you can’t, kill her, ”Banu said, remembering her husband.
She didn’t believe he meant it and was sure he would change his mind once he held his sweet, bright-eyed little girl.
Three months later, her baby died and her husband is under arrest on charges of beating the baby to death. Police say he confessed to the murder.
This is by no means the first such case in India. Attitudes, traditions and economics have come together to make being a girl a dangerous prospect in the country, doctors say. Most of the time, girls are eliminated long before they are born.
How? ‘Or’ What? Sex-selective abortions.
India has a growing gender gap: the 2011 census showed that for every 1,000 boys six years of age or younger, there were only 914 girls. This is the lowest sex ratio since India gained independence in 1947.
The United Nations has declared India the most dangerous place for a girl. Dr Anand Krishnan of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), who has been studying the gender gap for years, agrees.
“Yes, that’s largely from the perspective of mortality statistics for girls versus boys,” Krishnan told CNN.
Gender-selective abortions are against the law in India, but still occur at an alarming rate, he said.
Her study shows a surprising trend: Gender-selective abortions among the well-educated and affluent seem to be more prevalent than among the desperately poor and uneducated. Despite greater prosperity, their mentalities have not changed and they have the money to pay for ultrasounds and abortions.
“A boy is considered a better investment. They prefer boys, ”Krishnan said.
The explanation goes like this: In traditional Indian families, men marry and bring their wives home to live and take care of their parents.
Girls, on the other hand, marry and leave home without providing additional financial support.
Additionally, a girl’s family can go bankrupt trying to pay a dowry to marry her. Although banned in India, dowries are still common and take different forms in society.
Indian law also prohibits doctors from telling a couple the gender of their child after an ultrasound, but many clinics break the law and do so anyway.
India has made a nationwide effort to end female infanticide.
CNN visited a village in Haryana state with one of the worst boy-to-girl ratios, according to the Indian government. A campaign is underway to change villagers’ minds about girls.
Tiny signs above the doors of several houses say in Hindi: “If you get rid of your daughters, where will you find your daughters-in-law?”
A teenager was wearing a t-shirt that read, “Save our daughters.”
However, there were young boys everywhere and only a few young girls. The villagers only claimed why there seemed to be an imbalance.
“The girls are mostly aborted here. People want more boys. There is a shortage of girls, ”Chandravati said without hesitation.
The villager was taking care of his neighbor’s newborn baby girl. She cooed at the baby as she puffed cigarette smoke into her tiny face, oblivious to the dangers secondhand smoke could pose.
She told us that the poorest people don’t have money for an abortion, so they are forced to keep the girls, but those who can afford an ultrasound and an abortion get rid of the female fetuses.
“It takes so much money to get them married. Where will the money come from? “She said.” Everything is so expensive these days. ”
But India is a country filled with glaring contradictions. When it comes to women and girls, this is a place where rejection of girls is juxtaposed with the fact that India has a female Speaker and Speaker of the House – and its most powerful politician is a woman, Sonia Gandhi. .
Sonia’s mother-in-law Indira Gandhi became India’s first female prime minister and one of the world’s first female heads of government.
In 2011, the latest census data showed that the literacy rate of girls is increasing faster than that of boys.
Afreen was only three months old when she was killed by her father who had wanted his wife to give birth to a boy.
Banu, whose husband is accused of killing their baby, and his parents say they always believed that a baby – boy or girl – was a blessing.
Her mother, Maqbool Bi, had four daughters and a boy. Although the family is poor, they raised their daughters with great hope for their future.
“With everything in my heart my heart breaks every time I remember what happened [to my granddaughter]. Even when I was starving, I raised my children, all four of them. I used to pray to God to save me from seeing any of my children die in front of my own eyes. My children should be successful in life. They should make us proud, ”she said.
Banu now lives with his parents in a tiny two-room house filled to the brim with family members.
She will spend her life struggling with the fact that she never had the chance to raise her first child because the baby was born a girl. With tears in his eyes, Banu said, “She was just born. She was like a flower bud, and he killed her. I lost my daughter. What can be worse than that? ”
CNN’s Harmeet Shah Singh contributed to this report.