On Thursday, a farmer, Ram Kumar, was driving to his fields in Hyderabad, India in his tractor when he saw a human hand sticking out of the ground. After spotting the hand he uncovered a newborn baby girl buried in the soil. The baby was quickly rushed to a nearby hospital. She had never been fed and weighs only 1.7 kilograms.

Authorities later arrested the baby’s maternal grandfather, Abdul Raheem, and his brother, Abdul Rasheed with the consent of the baby’s mother, Mehrunnisa, near Otkur village outside of Hyderabad. They are to be charged with attempted murder. Aside from the baby’s small size, her gender may be the main reason for the neglect. In India, baby girls are inferior to baby boys because boys do not require dowry payments to in-laws as girls do when they marry. These expenses can bankrupt poor families, causing them to take drastic measures to keep their female count low. Raheem’s excuse is that he has seven dollars and was afraid that he would be driven into financial ruin by an eighth daughter.

Medical research shows that baby girls are also more likely to die than baby boys, even from preventable illnesses. Again, the cause for this is due to the fact that the care of baby girls is not as important as the care of their boys. The death rate for girls is almost one-third higher than for boys. In the case of unexplained deaths, three out of every four babies were girls. They also are twice as likely to die from diarrhea. Illegal, sex-selected abortions are also prevalent.

Because of these numbers, there has become a shortage of females in India compared to the male population. Men are finding it harder to find a bride in their home states. For ever 1,000 male babies born, there are only 933 girls. For every 1,000 baby girls born, 16 are killed. Not every area of India has this problem. In the state of Meghalaya, the daughters of the local tribesmen inherit property. They also run family businesses, households, and make important family decisions. However, men are challenging these practices, concerned that their women’s marrying of male outsiders undermine property rights. However, if the general population developed a more equal marriage system and did away with dowries, without losing their cultural identity, more females would be alive in the country today.

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