The man was arrested whilst his wife was rushed to a hospital in Bareilly in serious condition by her family with the help of neighbours. Reports suggest that he wanted a boy and attacked his wife to find out if the foetus was male or female.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The father of five daughters ripped open his pregnant wife’s belly to find the gender of the foetus, police have reported.
The gruesome incident took place last Saturday in Badaun district (Uttar Pradesh), when Pannalal, 43, a labourer, came home drunk and quarreled with his wife Anita Devi, 40, then struck her in the belly with a sharp-edged weapon, ostensibly to find out the sex of the baby.
Speaking about the attack, Police Superintendent Pravin Singh Chauhan told the PTI agency that the incident took place in Nekpur, a locality in the Civil Lines police station area.
A First information report (FIR) was filed against the man who was arrested, the superintendent said, adding that the reasons for the crime are being investigated.
The injured woman (pictured) was rushed to a hospital in Bareilly in serious condition by her family helped by neighbours. They claim that Pannalal wanted a boy and committed the crime to find out if the foetus was a male or female.
When Anita refused, Pannalal hit her with a sickle. According to the police, the woman was six or seven months pregnant.
“Such horrific violence against women and her unborn child is the direct consequence of patriarchy, which is a serious social evil against women,” said Dr Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, speaking to AsiaNews.
“Wives and daughters are socially marginalised and face an existential threat even in their own homes; patriarchy is deeply rooted. Girls are at risk even before birth,” he explained.
Dr Pascoal Carvalho goes on to say that “The deeply embedded bias against girls is a reality across our country; hence, the Catholic Church in India prioritises the dignity and survival of girls as an area of special concern.”
“The Catholic Church in India,” he adds, “supports and promotes gender equality through its educational, health and socio-economic interventions, and by continuously spreading the message of equality between girls and boys in a concrete way through sensitisation and awareness programmes.”
In fact, “The Catholic Church in India is committed to defending and promoting the right of girls to life, education, nutrition, health and development.” It seeks to “to protect girls from discriminatory neglect and all forms of abuse, and “works towards a society based on equality, dignity and justice.”
Dr Liza Ignatius, a gynecologist at Our Lady of Grace Hospital in Sardhana, Uttar Pradesh, spoke to AsiaNews about the event, despite being positive to COVID-19 and having a fever.
"This is the most heinous crime,” she said. This “is a very sad situation for any woman. Not even animals do such an evil thing, cutting the abdomen to discover the gender of the unborn child. This action should be strongly condemned.”
“I have delivered over ten thousand babies in my thirty years of practice as a gynecologist. There is always a preference for a male child, but not to this extent,” Dr Ignatius explained. To counter this, “I have been conducting awareness camps and programmes for the past thirty years to save girls, but the issue unfortunately continues.”
For the gynecologist, “Sex determination should be completely abolished in this country. It is essential that we all join hands to condemn this and eradicate the evil of sex determination and female foeticide.”
Our Lady of Grace Hospital is located about 30 kilometres from the city of Meerut. It was founded about 30 years ago by the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Grace (FSLG).
Dr Liza Ignatius, who is also a Sister, has practised gynecology since 1990 and is in charge of health care development in the area of maternal and child services.