A father in India is accused of beating his 3-month-old baby to death — because she was born a girl.
CNN’s Sara Sidner traveled to Bangalore to report on 19-year-old Reshma Banu, the mother of the baby whose sad story is the latest example of infanticide in the country.
Banu’s baby, Afreen, was admitted to the hospital with bite marks, cigarette burns and a dislocated neck, injuries her father, Banu’s husband, is accused of inflicting.
DNAIndia.com reports the child died at the hospital on April 11, and her father was arrested. Police say he confessed to murdering the infant, according to CNN.
“After my delivery, my husband had come to see me and the baby,” Banu said. “He said,‘It is a girl, why did you give birth to a girl?’”
Banu explained that her husband had wanted a boy, because girls are too expensive. In India, while gender-based abortions and infanticide are both illegal, being a female is still dangerous. Most girls are dead before they are born, according to CNN.
“A boy is seen as a better investment,” explains Dr. Anand Krishnan of All India Institute of Medical Sciences. “They prefer boys.”
Traditionally, when Indian girls get married, they leave home and go to take care of their husband’s parents. This leaves the girls’ parents without someone to care for them, unless they also have sons. Parents may also face financial stress trying to come up with money for their daughter’s dowries — which, while illegal, are still common.
A villager named Chandravati, who lives in an area with one of the worst boy-to-girl ratios in the country, tells CNN there is a shortage of girls, who are “mostly aborted here.”
“So much money is required to get them married,” she said. “Where will the money come from? Everything is so expensive these days.”
But Sidner’s report notes that it’s actually the rich and not the poor families who are most likely to have gender-based abortions — because they can afford them. Poor women don’t have the money to pay for an ultrasound and learn the baby’s sex, so they are forced to keep female fetuses.
While it is illegal in India for doctors to tell a couple the sex of their child after an ultrasound, most do it anyway, according to CNN.
Statistics show the country’s gender gap is widening. For every 1,000 boys six or younger, there are only 914 girls, according to the 2011 census.
Krishnan, who has studied the gender gap for years, says India is one of the most dangerous places to be a girl.
In Banu’s case, she knew her husband wanted a boy, but says she didn’t think that he would actually kill her baby. Two days after she gave birth, she says he gave her an ultimatum: Come up with a 100,000 rupees for all the expenses a girl will inevitably bring, or kill her.
Now, the young woman’s husband is charged with murder and her daughter is dead.
“She had just come into the world,” Banu told CNN. “She was like a flower bud, and he killed her. I lost my daughter. What can be worse than this?”