Uttar Pradesh, Indian man cuts pregnant wife Anita Devi stomach to check baby gender. Father of five daughters, Pannalal, feared another girl — now charged w/ attempted murder. Gender bias in India.
He just wanted to know if this time it was going to be a boy — even if it meant costing his wife’s life.
The 35-year-old woman – who police said is six or seven months pregnant — and the unborn child are reported to have survived the attack, the Times of India reports.
Anita Devi underwent surgery Sunday night at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital.
An updated report via the UK’s Telegraph revealed the woman giving birth to a stillborn baby.
‘My brother-in-law often used to beat my sister for giving birth to five daughters.’
The husband, identified only as Pannalal, 43, allegedly slit his wife stomach open Saturday night at their home in Budaun in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, according to NDTV.
Pannalal was convinced by a local priest that his wife was expecting another girl so he initially demanded for her to get an abortion, which she refused.
‘My brother-in-law often used to beat my sister for giving birth to five daughters. Our parents had intervened on several occasions. But no one imagined that he would take such a cruel step,’ Devi’s brother Ravi Kumar Singh told the news outlet.
Adding, ‘When I reached there, I saw blood everywhere. Anita’s stomach was slit, and she told me that her husband did this. I took her to the hospital with the support of the police.’
Devi was first taken to a hospital in Bareilly but her condition worsened so Singh took her to a private hospital, which refused to admit her unless the family left a sizable deposit, the Times of India reported.
Devi’s family then rushed her to the hospital in Delhi.
Police Superintendent Praveen Singh Chauhan said Pannalan has been charged with attempted murder. The husband has since maintained that he claimed he did not hurt his wife intentionally. While admitting to ‘throwing’ the sickle at his wife, he told local media he had not intended to injure her so seriously the UK’s Independent reported.
India has highest female feticide rates in the world
According to a report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), approximately 46 million girls have gone missing in India in the past 50 years. 460,000 girls are killed every year through abortion after gender-based sex selection and excess female mortality due to deliberate neglect of girls after birth.
While India outlawed the selective abortion of female foetuses in 1994, the practice remains commonplace in the country, with sex-selective abortions continuing to be common in India, where sons are preferred to daughters. The bias, reflecting a historical cultural norm in India that favors sons over daughters, has resulted in a skewed gender ratio in the country.
A 2018 Indian government report said the desire for sons had created 21 million ‘unwanted’ girls. The finance ministry report found that many couples kept on having children until they had a boy.
The preference for male children but at what cost?
India is a country with a longstanding cultural preference for male children.
The desire for sons comes from the belief that a male offspring will financially provide for the family, look after parents in old age and carry the family name forward. A daughter, on the other hand, will eventually marry and leave, and often the parents will have to pay large dowries.
This preference for sons, aided by pre-natal gender-selection technology, has played havoc with India’s sex-ratio imbalance and over the years, tens of millions of girls have been killed – in the womb or soon after birth from deliberate neglect.
In 1961, for every 1,000 boys under the age of seven, there were 976 girls. According to the last census in 2011, that figure had dropped to 914.
Experts say for things to change, India must confront its unhealthy societal preference for boys and convince families to celebrate daughters as much as they celebrate their sons.