x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Baby girl's killing reveals India's crisis of gender bias

A three-month-old baby girl who police say was battered by her father because he wanted a son dies, highlighting the plight of millions of India's "unwanted girls".

NEW DELHI // A three-month-old baby girl who police say was battered by her father because he wanted a son died yesterday, highlighting the plight of millions of India's "unwanted girls".

Neha Afreen died from cardiac arrest at a state-run hospital in 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," the hospital executive Gangadhar Belawadi said.

Afreen was brought to the hospital with head injuries, abrasions and bite marks all over her 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, said. "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 killed because they were unwanted.

"The cruelty against girls is crossing all limits," Ranjana Kumari, the director of the non-profit Centre for Social Research, said.

"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.

The girl, named Falak or "Sky" by the media, was hailed as a miracle child after showing signs of improvement following five gruelling operations but she later died of a heart attack.

Last week, a newborn baby girl in the western city of Jodhpur was abandoned while her parents fought for the custody of a baby boy handed to them by mistake. The parents insisted the girl was not their child and only accepted her after 11 days when the results of a DNA test were shown to them.