By Dave Andrusko
Earlier this week we posted a story for which the word “miracle” was insufficient. A grieving father in India, in the process of burying his own prematurely delivered daughter, found an infant girl buried alive in a clay pot about three feet below the ground. Doctors estimate Seeta (the name given the baby by hospital staff) had been there for at least two days, perhaps as many as three or four!
Writing at Health Issues India Kerean Watts tells us what the father, Hitesh Sirohi, told authorities: “At one point I thought that my daughter had come alive. But the voice was actually coming from the pot.”
When Sirohi found that crying baby girl, it was, Watts wrote, “an incident which served as a grim and visceral reminder of one of the major issues affecting the wellbeing of India’s girls: sex discrimination.”
So far, no one has come forward to claim Seeta. As of the writing of Watts’ post, Seeta’s “condition is described as ‘critical’ at the time of writing, although Bareilly chief medical officer has said her ‘condition has improved.’”
We read that a societal preference for boys over girls means not just obvious cases of infanticide, but “in numerous cases, a family offers their daughters substandard levels of nutrition, education, and healthcare compared to their sons.” This more subtle example of sex discrimination, Watts writes, “claims the lives of almost 240,000 girls aged beneath the age of five every year.”
Making lethal sex selection more prevalent, of course, is prenatal screening. Although sex-selective abortion is illegal in India, it “is widespread, resulting in 10.6 million missing girls and women between 1970 and 2017.” The sex ratios are terrifying: in 2019, there are only 930 females for every 1,000 males.
Watts ends with a call to action:
The tragic case from Bareilly exemplifies these worrying trends. Sex discrimination is an issue India vitally needs to grapple with, for the sake of its development and the wellbeing of its girls and women. Female empowerment is a touchstone of the Centre’s ‘Beti Padao, Beti Bachao’ scheme, including reversing the gender gap. This incident should lend impetus to efforts to reverse these trends.