Female Infanticide -An Emerging Social Problem In India

Female infanticide means deliberate killing of new born female children. In a country like India, the pernicious practice of female infanticide is quite common However; the same is fast emerging as a potent social problem confronting Indian society. In a shocking revelation, the United Nations has declared that India is the most deadly country for female children, Child Relief & You (CRY), a voluntary organization working for the protection of Children’s rights, has estimated that of the twelve million females born yearly in India, one million would have died within their first year of life because of one or the other reason. Among a host of reasons, ‘Female Infanticide’ is the most gruesome and horrendous in its form and nature. 

There have been a number of studies in India to ascertain the reasons, forms and manner of killing of female infants. A number of reasons can be cited which , in one way or the other, contribute to female infanticide in India chiefly being age old bias against females in the patriarchal society, inequality, low socio economic status of women, lack of economic Independence, illiteracy, ignorance, fear of dowry, lack of women’s participation in decision making, and an orthodox outlook.

The merciless and savage manner in which the girl infants are killed is utterly reprehensible and condemnable. The nerve chilling methods of killing the innocent female infants are fiendish in nature and may vary from state to state. Dumping and drowning of the girls soon after birth is a common practice. The new born baby girls are dumped without any remorse or shame on the piles of garbage or left open in a desolate place only to be eaten by stray dogs and birds of prey. Killing by drowning is considered relatively safe by the killers as the neighbors and relatives can seldom suspect the actual cause of death of the new born girl. At times, the baby is killed by drowning. The baby girl is lowered head first in a bucket full of water, thereby, killing her in a very short time/.Killing by strangulation is yet another gory form of Female Infanticide.

In some cases, soon after a woman gives birth to the female baby, the baby is snatched from mother and the new born’s head is dashed against the wall killing her instantly. In Rajasthan it has been reported that the mouth of female infant is filled with salt and her nostrils filled with grains nuking her unable to breathe resulting in her very painful and tragic death. Deliberate negligence and no medicare for the girl child results in her death. Sometimes the baby girl is left open in the sun with her body parts exposed so that she dies due to dehydration in the scorching heat. 

The practice of female infanticide is fraught with potential danger and has serious repercussions. Eliminating females poses grave threat to the very existence of the society. If this practice is not stopped, it may result in a social disequilibrium and kick start a string of inter related psycho-social and economic problems. This abominable practice will significantly and adversely impact existing social institutions and lead to greater societal conflicts and retarded socio-economic development.

The practice of female infanticide is illegal and punishable by law. However, people do not report these cases, making it nearly impossible for police to investigate the matter. The remedy to handle social problem called female infanticide lies not in Government laws alone but also in creating mass awareness and a value oriented, gender sensitive society where the human rights of people are respected. It calls for organized, well coordinated, and goal directed collective efforts by the conscious people of the society.

Professional social workers have a great role to play in dealing with this obnoxious social problem and uphold worth and dignity of a female child. Social Interventions like mobilization of public resources, gender awareness campaign to prevent female discrimination, creating Self Help Groups (SHGs) for socio-economic independence, Family Counseling, education and training at different levels to create a positive mindset towards girl child, networking, lobbying and social advocacy. The professionally trained social workers can play a significant role in converging various child protection schemes designed to protect the rights of the girl child and stop mindless killings. Various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives can be effectively and efficiently linked with issues gender equality issues and women empowerment. Social Workers can turn out to be the catalytic agents for the much coveted planned and focused social change in society in the relentless fight against female infanticide.



Assistant Professor – Department of Arts & Humanities

Kalinga University

Email ID: awtar.kishan.kaul@kalingauniversity.ac.in

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