Indian police said Monday they had found nineteen aborted female foetuses dumped in a sewer in the western state of Maharashtra, highlighting the country’s problem of female foeticide.
Prenatal gender tests are illegal in India, a policy designed to stop unborn girls being aborted by parents desperate for a boy.
But the tests are still thought to be common, particularly in poor rural areas, and gender ratios are skewed towards males across India.
“We have recovered nineteen foetuses and are trying to arrest the doctor, who is absconding,” Dattatray Shinde, a police super-intendent in Maharasthra’s Sangli district, told AFP.
He said the foetuses were found late Sunday wrapped in blue plastic bags in a sewer next to a clinic run by Doctor Babasaheb Khidrapure in the village of Mhaisal.
Officers made the discovery after a 26-year-old woman died during a failed abortion attempt at the surgery, Shinde said. “We have arrested the victim’s husband Praveen Jamdade for pressuring her into an abortion,” he said. Parents and doctors can be jailed for up to five years for requesting or conducting a prenatal gender test.
A 2011 study in the British medical journal The Lancet found that up to twelve million girls had been aborted in the last three decades in India.
India had 940 females for every 1,000 males, according to the last official census published in 2011, up from 933 in 2001. In Sangli, where the feotuses were found, there are just 867 girls per 1000 boys, the figures show.
Women in India can face pressure to produce male children, who are seen as breadwinners. Girls are often viewed as a financial burden as they require hefty marriage dowries.