Hyderabad: The number of cases of female infanticide in the tribal communities from Krishna region used to be extremely high; and when the number of deaths started decreasing, there was a rise in the number of illegal adoptions.
To check the baby-trade, a shishugriha was set up at Nalgonda in 2005. But later, it was found that a more severe issue prevailed in the Devarakonda division; and another shishugriha was set up there in 2010 — despite a Government-imposed rule of one shishugriha per district.
According to officials, there are various reasons for the desire for a male child that is prevalent among the tribal communities spread across this belt. These reasons include illiteracy, poverty, superstition and social stigma. The education of a girl child is seen as an investment which will not reap any profit; additionally the demand for dowry puts a huge financial burden on a girl’s family. In contrast, the education of a male child is seen as a profitable investment. Even an illiterate boy can make a demand for lakhs in dowry. For a long time, these communities practiced female infanticide without it coming to the notice of officials. Even though the number of officially recorded cases was a single-digit value, many incidents gone unnoticed. And after clampdowns, people began illegally selling female new-borns instead. If a couple was unable to sell their baby, they relinquished the child to a shishugriha instead.
After the setup of the shishugriha at Nalgonda, the number of cases of female infanticide and abandonment has declined. There have even been incidents where mothers have given their babies up to a shishugriha within two hours of delivery. Each of the two shishugrihas in the district has a capacity of ten, but they already house a total of 38 children.
Cops to ‘stay the night’ at villages
In a move to create awareness about female infanticide and selling of newborn girls, Nalgonda cops started an awareness programme in December last year. The programme will enter its second phase on Wednesday. Since 2011, around 50 cases of baby selling incident have been reported in Nalgonda district.
“For phase 2, we have identified around 30 villages. The plan will include a night stay in the village,” says superintendent of police, N. Prakash Reddy. In addition to this, RMP doctors in tandas and villages have also been sensitised on this issue and they have been warned to not indulge in such activities related to foetus identification tests or performing abortions, mediating for illegal adoptions.