Traditions and cultural beliefs in India are resulting in the slaughter of girls, often before they’re even born. In the past 20 years, ten million female foetuses have been aborted. Helen Roberts investigates why a nation doesn’t want daughters. Clutching husband Rajesh*’s hand, 20-year-old Nilima* stares at a monitor displaying grainy black and white swirls. She’s 20 weeks pregnant and they’re in a small clinic in Jaipur, the capital of the western Indian state of Rajasthan, about to see an image of their unborn baby for the first time.
Her husband has his eyes glued to the monitor as the doctor examines the foetus’ heart and vital details to check it’s growth and health. But there’s one thing Rajesh, a businessman, wants to know more than anything else – the sex of their child.
When the scan is over, the doctor leads Rajesh and Nilima to his office where he gives them the news – their unborn baby is a girl. The disappointment on both the parents’ faces is evident. While Nilima’s eyes well up because she knows what her fate and that of her unborn child will be, Rajesh quietly takes the doctor to a corner of his office.
Seeing both of them speak in hushed tones, Nilima knows what is being discussed: an abortion. She is reluctant to undergo one, but she knows she will be forced to by her husband and his parents.