06/06/2012, 00.00
INDIA

Forced abortions of baby girls in third, sixth and eighth month pregnancies

by Nirmala Carvalho
The various episodes occurred in Beed District (Maharashtra). Three physicians have been arrested. One woman forced to abort is 17. A 28-year-old dies from complications in connection with the procedure. Physician from the Pontifical Academy of Life complains that "selective female abortions are increasing, in the cities as well."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Many women are forced into third, fourth, fifth, sixth and even eight month abortion; at least, this was happened to four women in Beed District (Maharashtra). They also had another thing in common-they were expecting girls. One of the women, a 28-year-old, died from complications associated with the late abortion. On 18 May, police arrested two physicians, Sudam Munde and his wife Saraswati Munde, in connection with the case.

At the start of this month, police arrested another physician, Shivaji Sanap, for performing an abortion on a 17-year-old, who a six-month pregnant. He ran an illegal private clinic.

Two of the women forced to abort, Mangal Masu Dhinghe, 29, and Manisha Vilas Javle, 28, were also arrested for illegally disposing of the foetuses. Police found the bodies of their two baby girls in the Bindusara River, near the city of Beed.

According to the post-mortem report, one foetus was of eight months and six days; the other was five months and eight days, both indicating drug-induced delivery (abortion), police said.

Based on the findings, the district collector ordered an inquiry in maternity wards in all local hospitals.

"Beed District is notorious for foeticide and female infanticide," said Dr Pascoal Carvalho, member of the Pontifical Academy of Life, who spoke to AsiaNews. "It also has one of the most skewed male-female ratios for children under 6: 801 to 1,000." The latest (2011) census tells the same sad tale "for the whole of India."

"In 1991, there were 4.2 million fewer girls than boys. In 2001, that were 6.2 million and now they are 7.1 million," Dr Carvalho said.

This "great social evil" is "cultural," he explained. "Our society is patriarchal and boys have always been favoured. Females are seen as a burden; someone to educate and then give away in marriage with a hefty dowry. Once married, women are not respected until they give birth to a baby boy.

The problem is compounded by greedy physicians who take advantage of a social problem to enrich themselves.

Pre-natal sex testing is illegal in India, but (illegal and expensive) private clinics are willing to turn a blind eye for a fee.

"By killing female foetuses, the couple of doctors made a fortune," said Dr Carvalho, who is also  a member of the Diocesan Human Life Commission in Mumbai.

Police in fact found that the husband and wife team had amassed assets worth 1.5 billion (US$ 21.7 million), including 160 acres of farmland, two plots in Parli town, four bungalows and 12 vehicles."

The husband and his son also had "40 bank accounts and two flats in Aurangabad."

 

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