Gruesome Headlines That Shouldn’t Belong in 2020: UP Man Cuts Open Wife’s Womb to Check Baby’s Gender

Gender

Gruesome Headlines That Shouldn’t Belong in 2020: UP Man Cuts Open Wife’s Womb to Check Baby’s Gender

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

“Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” has been reduced to nothing but a slogan in India, where even in 2020, the society is obsessed with the male child. Female foeticide continues unabated in India and one of the most horrific incidents in recent memory comes from Uttar Pradesh. In Badaun district, a 43-year-old man allegedly slit opened his pregnant wife’s womb to find out the baby’s gender.

Father to five daughters, Pannalal is said to have been longing for a son. After a village priest predicted that his seven-month pregnant wife, however, would deliver yet another girl child, the desperate man took matters into his own hands. In an inhumane act, on Saturday night Pannalal attacked his wife Anita Devi, 35,  with a sharp object, ripping open her womb with a sickle.

With severe damages to her insides and excessive bleeding, Anita’s health deteriorated. Ravi Kumar Singh, Anita’s brother, was the one who found her lying in a pool of her own blood and immediately rushed his sister to a private hospital. But authorities refused to start treatment until he would deposit ₹4 lakh. With Anita’s worsening condition, Singh and his family then rushed to Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital.

Shockingly, Singh admitted that Pannalal would often beat up his sister for giving birth to five daughters. “Our parents had intervened on several occasions,” he admitted, “But no one imagined that he would take such a cruel step.”

With the support of the Safdarjung doctors and staff, Anita was operated upon on Sunday evening in an attempt to save her life and that of the unborn child. They are currently critical.

An FIR had been registered under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, for which Pannalal has already been arrested. According to additional Badaun Superintendent of Police Praveen Singh Chauhan, the 43-year-old did not have a stable job and would work in the fields sometimes. Chauhan also went on to state that the man was “not in his senses” at the time of the gut-wrenching act.

The woman’s family has alleged that Pannalal committed the crime only to “know the gender” of the baby. However, SHO of Civil Lines police station Sudhakar Pandey has claimed that the police are investigating the case.

Though shocking this is not an isolated incident in the country. India continues to struggle with sex-selective abortions. According to a UN report, as many as 4.6 lakh girls went “missing” at birth in India, each year from 2013 to 2017 due to sex selection at birth.

The problem of female foeticide is real. And to fight that India needs real solutions not just sloganeering.

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