Mumbai (AsiaNews) - With nearly 2,500 cases of female foeticide or female infanticide a day, the state of Rajasthan is one of worst places to be a girl in India. Selective sex tests, which are illegal, lead to selective abortions; however, now some people who want to get rid of baby girls found another way of getting around the law: water and food deprivation.
Since early June, the authorities in Jaisalmer District (one of the worst) have recorded five suspicious deaths of baby girls.
Last Friday, police in the village of Sangad (Jaisalmer) arrested Dileep Singh, after his daughter died under suspicious circumstances two days earlier.
According to Superintendent of Police Mamta Vishnoi, the accused deprived his daughter of necessary medical treatment after her birth. At present, her body is undergoing autopsy. The father will remain in custody for 15 days.
In the villages of Tejmalta and Mandi, three other baby girls died from unknown causes. One, born on 8 June in full health according to the doctors, was found dead a day later in a state of malnutrition. In another case, the family of the dead baby disappeared. Police is searching for them.
"To escape the law, these people are using inhuman methods," Jaisalmer District Collector Shuchi Tyagi said. "After leaving the newborn to die, they pour salt or other chemical agents on the body to accelerate the process of decomposition. At that point, no autopsy can determine the cause of death."
Following these incidents, Tyagi gave the order that all the births of baby girls had to be communicated to any district authority, health, police or municipal officials.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Dr Pascoal Carvalho, member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said, "Our country considers human life sacred, always. Ahimsa (non-violence) is one of India's most precious value. Yet, respect for life is gradually being eroded, and a culture of death is spreading."
"The last national census (2011) shows that Rajasthan has 883 females under the age of six per 1,000 males of the same age. In 2001, they were 909 (girls) per 1,000 (boys). This imbalance reflects a serious social malaise."
India, the doctor noted, "is a patriarchal society. Discrimination against women expresses itself in a very destructive fashion with female infanticides and foeticides; this, despite the government's efforts to raise awareness in the population." What is more, in Rajasthan, "the districts of Jaisalmer, Brmer, Pali, Chittorgarh, Ganganagar and Jhunjhunu are notorious for killing baby girls."
"Religious leaders, NGOs and government institutions must work together to promote the value and dignity of girls," Carvalho said. For the "Catholic Church, the sacredness of human life begins at conception," and "Many of its hospitals are already teaching and promoting a culture of life, among patients."