A three-month-old baby girl that police say was battered by her father who wanted a son died on Wednesday, highlighting the plight of millions of India’s “unwanted girls”.
Neha Afreen died from cardiac arrest at a state-run hospital in India’s tech hub of Bangalore after battling for life for three days.
“We tried our best to revive Afreen but could not succeed and she succumbed to her injuries,” hospital executive Gangadhar Belawadi told AFP.
Afreen was brought to the hospital with head injuries, abrasions and bite marks all over the body, causing national outrage that led to the arrest of her father on Monday.
“My husband was enraged with me for delivering a girl,” Afreen’s mother Reshma Banu told reporters. “He hated her. He wanted me to get rid of the child or abandon her as he wanted a son.”
Afreen’s case is the latest in a string of incidents across India where baby girls have been abandoned, tortured or even killed because they were unwanted.
“The cruelty against girls is crossing all limits,” Ranjana Kumari, director of the non-profit Centre for Social Research, told AFP.
“We need to do a lot more to sensitise the society towards the worth of girls and severely punish people guilty of such crimes.”
In March, an abandoned two-year-old girl died at a New Delhi hospital after suffering horrific injuries, including broken arms and a smashed skull.
Last week, a newborn baby girl in western Jodhpur was abandoned as her parents fought for the custody of a baby boy handed to them by mistake.
The parents insisted the baby was not their child and only accepted her after 11 days when the results of a DNA test were shown to them.
Married women in patriarchal India face huge pressure to produce sons who are seen as breadwinners and carers for their parents.
Girls are often viewed as a burden in traditional families as they require hefty dowries to be married off and the practice of aborting female foetuses is rampant.
The preference for male children has led to a huge and alarming gender imbalance, with 2011 census data showing just 914 girls per 1,000 boys across India — much behind the global benchmark of 952.
Photo of Indian girls via v.s.anandhakrishna/Shutterstock.com