India: Female foeticide an organized crime & the ultrasound machine the instrument of murder Print E-mail
 Friday April 6 2007

New Delhi

Foeticide: when death comes before birth... .

The first copy of Gita Aravamudan's "Disappearing Daughters: The Tragedy of Female Foeticide" -- a chilling and in-depth account of the growing practice of female foeticide in the country -- was presented to President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan in the Capital on Wednesday.

Dr. Kalam in his foreword describes the book as one that "touches our conscience".

Published by Penguin Books India, the book draws attention to systematic murder of the girl child and also studies the imperatives that drive this phenomenon.

The author has collected accounts of foeticide and infanticide from across the country. A midwife from a remote village in Tamil Nadu narrates how the practice has moved on from feeding paddy husk and poisoned milk to the girl child. The norm now is to stifle the newborn with a cloth or a pillow, says the midwife.

Ms. Aravamudan, who has had long years of experience in journalism, has also penned the experiences of women, some of whom have undergone as many as four abortions in five years just to have a son. According to the writer, though India has a history of skewed female sex ratio, what the country is witnessing today is the systematic extermination of the female child, with the ultrasound machine serving as an instrument of murder.

Ms. Aravamudan using the tools of investigative reporting shows how elimination of the female foetus has burgeoned into an organised crime. The book also makes it clear that if the macabre practice continues, it would spell doom for both sons and daughters and will have a disastrous impact on the future generations.

The author has also published another book on women's issues called "Voices in My Blood". Ms. Aravamudan has been associated with the women's movement in the country for over 25 years and continues to write on a range of gender issues. -- P. Anima

-- P. Anima