Pregnant woman killed for having only daughters
This post is so difficult to write, but I felt I could not let this
story pass without mentioning the tragic fate of Nita Koli, a
25-year-old mother in Gujarat, India. Six months
pregnant, the young woman was burned to death by her husband
and mother-in-law, apparently after learning her baby was a third
The most appalling aspect of this story is that Nita is far from unique in her sad fate -- each year in India, thousands of women are burned in a crime called bride burning.
The practice is carried out by men who find their wife unsatisfactory
for some reason, usually dowry-related. Even though the dowry
custom has been outlawed in India, a bride's parents are expected to
provide the couple with expensive gifts and money, sometimes throughout
the marriage. If the husband is dissatisfied with the dowry, or
if the parents fall behind in payments, the wife may become a victim of
bride burning; often disguised as an accident or (incredibly)
suicide. The husband, conveniently enough, is now
eligible for a new wife and another dowry.
In Nita Koli's case, it seems clear that husband Sanjay was
displeased with the economics of receiving one dowry for Nita, yet
facing the demands for three dowries from future in-laws. Whether
he and his mother, Kuwar Koli, will be punished for this barbaric crime
remains to be seen. On the date of Nita's burning, August 10, a
"complaint of harassment was lodged with the Morbi police". The two
were not even arrested until Nita died from her burns a week later, when they were charged with murder.
In the current debate in the UK over whether the ban on sex
selection should be lifted, there are some who argue that permitting
gender selection for non-medical reason sends the wrong message to
countries with a strong preference for boys. The gender ratio in
India, in particular, has become distorted from the use of sex
selective abortion, infanticide, neglect, and abandonment. (I
don't personally consider these practices to be "sex selection", any
more than I would consider abortion to be "birth control".) The
Indian government is actually promoting a "Save the Girl Child"
campaign, imploring parents not to abort female babies or murder their
newborn daughters. The very idea that a government finds it
necessary to beg parents not to kill their own children, is mind
boggling to the point of incomprehension.
To those working to improve the plight of women in India, outrage
over a procedure like MicroSort cannot be overstated, because it is
viewed as inherently sexist -- that choosing a baby's sex implies
favoring one sex over the other. However, being steeped in a
culture that favors males so strongly that women become viewed as
little more than incubators for more males, they have missed a crucial
point: The majority of those seeking to use sex selection in Western countries want to have girls. ]
Every statistic available for sex selection bears out a desire for
girls. More girls are requested at MicroSort in the US and at
Ericsson clinics worldwide. British couples undergoing
infertility treatment were polled about gender selection, and many more
said they would choose to have a girl, if the choice were
available. Even sales the at-home Gen-Select gender selection kit
are reported to be higher for the female kit.
The message from the responsible use of sex selection for family
balancing isn't that one sex is superior, but that both are equally
desired and treasured. And that daughters aren't merely a burden
to be tolerated, but are beloved and cherished; and desired so strongly
that mothers are willing to surmount enormous obstacles for the joy of
Please pray with me for the welfare the two daughters left
behind by Nita Koli, whose circumstances, I can only imagine, must be
very grim indeed.