Human Interest

Dead before birth: The missing daughters of India

By Indira Guerrero

Bareilly, India, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- No one knows where the missing girls in Mahima’s village are, except Mahima herself. The last time she saw one of them, her own, was when she left her womb in the abortion of an unwanted daughter.

No one knows where the others are.

Girls are missing in this village and the neighboring, and throughout India. No one is looking for them.

They do not know about them. Most are dead or unborn.

Over the past 30 years, millions of girls vanished without a trace or died before they reached 6, suspected of being uprooted from the womb before birth, killed, sold, abandoned, or made to disappear by parents.

The cost of raising them makes them unworthy of living.


A United Nations official, in her office in a posh Lodhi Estate neighborhood of New Delhi, drew a diagram of the sectors of society involved in the disappearances.

“If you look at it, this line goes through the families of those girls, the government, the police, the hospitals, the economy. Everyone is in this, nobody cares, just forget about it,” she said, connecting them to form a loop.

In the late 1980s, reports of newborn deaths from a broken neck within a few hours of birth or due to poisoned milk or suffocation with soaked sheets revealed that the targeted killing of girls was taking place in India.

The 1991 census of India set off the alarm bells. The data showed that there were 927 women per 1,000 men against the global average of 952.

Over the years, the brutal killings seemed to have subsided, owing to the monitoring of pregnant women until delivery and the installation of cribs in hospitals for parents to leave their babies in-case they did not want to bring them up.

“If your baby is a burden, leave them here,” read the signs at some centers.

Cases of murdered baby girls declined, but the population of women continued to fall.

The arrival of ultrasounds in India had started a new system of gender determination and selection.

The 1991 census showed that there were 4.2 million fewer girls than boys aged 0 to 6 years.

The situation worsened over the next decade, according to the 2001 census, which raised the difference to six million.

In the latest census, carried out in 2011, the difference reached 7.1 million, the Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR) reported in a study published by The Lancet.

In June, the federal Home Ministry published the registration of births between 2016 and 2018, the latest study of sex ratio in the country until the 2021 census is published.

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