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India: The Missing Girls
A society out of balance
 

 

Neil Katz & Marisa Sherry

Neil Samson Katz is a freelance journalist working in print, television and new media. He has reported from India, Mexico and Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. His work has appeared in the NY Times.com, Washington Post, NJ Star Ledger and NY Daily News. Katz graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in 2005 where he won the James A. Wechsler Memorial Award for International Reporting.

Marisa Sherry is a nutritionist specializing in HIV at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. While living in India with her husband Mr. Katz, she was drafted into journalism.

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Length: 10:46

In 2006, when my wife and I traveled to India to live and work, the one issue that kept grabbing our attention was northern India's deep cultural preference for sons over daughters. The desire for sons can be so great, that some families, after having a girl or two, will abort female fetuses until they bear a son. The practice is called female feticide or sex selection.

In some ways this is a very old tale. Long before medical abortion became available, unwanted girls were killed after birth or not given enough food and medicine to survive. But modern technology has changed that. Ultrasound machines, which make it possible to determine the gender of a fetus, have spread from big city hospitals to small country clinics. Portable machines are taken to remote villages by motorcycle. As a consequence, infanticide has given way to feticide.

Despite a law banning sex selective abortion in force for a decade, as many as half a million female fetuses are aborted each year in India, according to a 2006 study in the British medical journal, The Lancet. Some believe those numbers are high, but it is clear there is an imbalance in the country's population. A 2001 government census revealed that there were 795 women for every 1000 men in Punjab, India's rural heartland. The numbers were no better in the posh neighborhoods of South Delhi.

The statistics are even more surprising for new births. In Punjab, we visited small farming villages where there were five girls for every ten boys between the ages of zero and six. My wife and I wanted to understand this lopsided ratio and why so many Indians prize sons over daughters so much so that they are willing to abort female pregnancies in hopes of having more sons.

Our travels took us across rural Punjab and much of New Delhi. Everywhere we went, we asked the question, why are sons so important? We sat with government officials, country doctors and city specialists. We took tea with rural midwives, health workers and college students. We met one woman rushing to the ultrasound clinic to discover if her five-month-old fetus was a boy or a girl. If it was a girl, she flatly told us, she would abort it.

Almost everyone we met told us that female feticide was rampant, but not in their homes. The reasons given were varied: from needing a son to light a parent's funeral pyre to hoping a male bread winner will care for his parents as they grow old and infirm. But one reason consistently stood out amongst the rest: dowry, the high price families must pay to marry off their daughters.

Dowry is illegal in India, but that law is almost universally ignored. For poor and middle class families, the resulting expenses can create crushing debts. For the wealthy, smaller families are becoming the norm. And many feel if they are only to have two or three children, they must have at least one son.

None of this is said in the open. In the past, newspapers and billboards advertised sex selective abortions. Today, the laws are tougher and the practice has gone underground. But it is clear from the numbers that it is far from going away and that India's girls continue to go missing.

Neil Samson Katz

* * *

About FRONTLINE/World Fellows
"India: The Missing Girls" by Neil Katz is the first Fellows project this round from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The FRONTLINE/World Fellows program is sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and is part of our ongoing effort to identify and mentor the next generation of video, print and online journalists.

This report from India is the second in a new series of Fellows stories for the 2006/2007 season. The program, started in 2003, so far has produced 19 multimedia stories by talented young journalists, who have traveled to Guatemala, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Haiti, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, Egypt, Israel, Rwanda and Sicily, and journeyed across Europe by train from Istanbul to Paris. You can see them all here.

As part of the latest Fellows projects, made possible through our partnership with the U.C. Berkeley, Columbia and Northwestern Graduate Schools of Journalism, we will be bringing you stories from France, India, Liberia, China, Russia, Uganda and Morocco.

Comments for this story are now closed.

REACTIONS

lahore, punjab
My views might not be agreed to by all of you but do you guys realize what the life of an unwanted child will be? No, you don't. You can't change the mentality of people here. You can't change their concepts, they are born with it. I don't blame a mother for doing it. Every women from our background will very well understand her condition. I don't want to give my daughter a life I faced myself. It is a love of a woman for her unborn child that would cause her to kill [abort a female fetus]...Here in Pakistan a woman is abused since the day she is born...Even an educated woman like me faces so many blows on a daily basis by men. There is so much abuse here in Pakistan and in India. We are mistreated by our fathers, ours sons, our husbands and even by the common men when we go out to our job, everywhere.Life for women in Pakistan is disgusting, and it is our destiny and we can't change it.

Vinod Ganatra - MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
I thank for your research and report. It is a matter of shame for an Indian to see such things taking place in 2007. We claim that we have progressed and we have done so many things for women. I think our ancestors were much more educated because in past women had their rights in place.But we see decline in the status of women in India. This decline is seen only for last fifty years after our freedom. In fact, Indian women were equally active in our freedom movement. I also feel that our Government is also not serious and not interested in doing something in this matter.

Jersey City, NJ
There are many Christians in India and Christians in the South who participate in the "dowry" system. Under some unfortunate circumstances, my sister and I (who grew up in NY) were pressured to get married in Kerala and dowry was very much an issue. We have both gotten divorced. Yes, devaluation of women is a problem that needs to be addressed.This documentary brings to light a continuation of an old system, with a high tech twist. I do think the gender imbalance is going to impact India. However, I must say that I find the pro-choice person talking about how terrible it is quite sanctimonius. She gets to decice when it's a crime and she doesn't want to give some women a choice? Here in the US, women have abortions for a variety of reasons including convenience. It's more complex than that.

Leicester, England
Articles [and videos] such as this highlight the great injustices of the world. There are many missing girls, not just in India but also in China. Not enough is being done to combat this issue. Men and women are equal, apart from biological sex differences. When is the world going to wake up and realize that?!

Scott Baker - New York City, ny
This is really a disaster slowly unfolding, not just for India, or even the third world, where it is undoubtedly happening as well, but for the entire world. Think about the boy's lives for a moment. They will grow up frustrated and lonely, then become angry. Well, angry young men sometimes become violent. If they join together with other angry men, you have criminal gangs, even terrorists. This is destabilizing and dangerous for the entire world - all because there aren't enough women to civilize these men. Add to that that Americans seeking to adopt, overwhelmingly (80%) prefer girls, thereby pulling still more girls out of the third world. That's good for the neglected girls, of course, but what about the men left behind? India, and other countries practicing femail fetuscide, need to start valuing their females for their ability to earn and contribute to the society in other ways besides baby-making. Then, the need to bribe potential grooms with dowries would disappear, since the young women they marry would bring value of their own into the marriage. This is particularly true as young Indians aspire to a middle class lifestyle that may not be obtainable from just a single paycheck earned by the man. Mothers need to raise their girls to be equal partners to men, so that the dowry becomes an unnecessary anachronism. Otherwise, men will be fighting on the street, competing indirectly for access to women.

B Kline - Liberty, MO
It's not nice to fool Mother Nature. In the end, this practice of selective abortion will come back to haunt the Indian people. What a sad commentary on how people choose to use legitimate medical advances illegitimately. Please do follow ups on this sad story.

Hamid Shahul - Chennai( Madras) , Tamil Nadu
Dear Neil,Thank you for yet another reminder to law makers to implement what has been regulated. Sex determination has been prohibited by the Court, and is punishable but the way you have described is indeed surprising . The portable machines are taken and sex determined. Cant beleive it.You have rightly brought out that the son syndrome is with every Indian, be it rich or poor. Many reasons have been advanced and most likely is that of Dowry problems that the poor face. Despite the the law and societal pressures dowry does not seem to go away. Added to that now many suicides are committed by even middle class girls frm continued pressure from the in-laws to get money, gifts of all kinds.By the way Neil this psychology( disease) of a boy is seen even in USA also. So and So (Jr), isn't it the symptom of same malaise?A very good job done.Regards,HMS.

jayadev Bisineeru - Bangalore, Karnataka
As an Indian I am ashamed to be part of the great tragedy of female feticide. People do not seem to learn from history. The large number of males that cannot be married is not good for the country since these single individuals without mates will resort to violence and other radical life styles as it happened long time ago in certain provinces of China. The dowry system that has propagated this genocide will eventually give rise to great violence in the country.

mai iqbal - Atlanta, GA
Indian people are very good and sincere in their religious belief. Since there is nothing against the practice of sex selection in Hinduism, the practice of female feticide has become rampant mainly for social and economic reasons. It is the duty of everyone at all levels to educate and discourage this immoral practice in Hinduism. The Indian government should be more proactive in eliminating it by imposing high penalties for the offenders. This is going to be difficult due to high corruption in the law and order departments. At the international level, foreign friendly countries can make a big difference in raising feticide as a human rights issue. In this age of information technology, a lot can be done to save the Laxmis (a title of respect given to daughters in Indian culture, Laxmi means wealth) of the future by promoting it in daily news, shows and doumentaries.

Pubali Ray Chaudhuri - Fremont, CA
The treatment of women in modern India continues to remain India's greatest shame. We have made tragically little progress in the field of women's rights, and we persist in denying or obfuscating the problem. I earnestly hope that this very critical human rights issue gets maximum publicity across the wider world. Indian society -- patriarchal, casteist, misogynistic Indian society -- where woman is worshipped as a goddess and yet where women are brutally burned alive for dowry, raped, beaten, overworked, treated as lesser beings almost as a matter of course - this society must change its outlook for India to become truly civilized, truly democratic.

Anne Peterson - Seattle, WA
To the last person's comment: Two wrongs do not make a right. Killing a pre-born woman is actually a form of murder, since she is perfectly innocent before she is born.If, as you say, it is better to kill/murder female babies so as to spare them the same misery that you have suffered, then if you really meant what you said you would have killed/murdered yourself long ago, to spare yourself that misery.
The reality is that your life, however miserable it is, is better than your death. To make an analogy, having one's finger cut off is preferable to having one's head cut off.I pray that your life gets better, that men treat you with more dignity. But, even if they do not, I am glad that you are alive, that you made your comment, and I pray that you are able to turn the awful pain inflicted on you into beauty in your soul.

north miami beach, florida
I never thought I would say this ... but in a situation like this, some sort of socialism might be the only answer ... when the government takes care of all the social services ... particularly those necessary to
help the elderly ... people don't depend on families as much...because the social services work. My sister in law is from Russia, and her aging grandmother has had a home attendant for years - provided by the government - to care for her. Her mother can look forward to that, too when she gets old. Some systems work...and I think, despite all its ills, socialism works best with regards to caring for the elderly without all this family drama ... especially when you have to resort to the bride dowry/female feticide insanity like what's going on in India.

Anon - Toronto, Ontario
Being an Indian girl living in Canada, i can tell you that, although their reasons maybe different now, their excuses maybe different, the thought process is still the same. My first child was a girl, a beautiful energetic girl. But what I kept hearing was, hopefully you will have something "good" the next time around. This made me very very mad. What was wrong with my daughter? She was good. More then good. It made me not want to have a son to prove to these people that having just daughters is just as good. Now I'm pregnant again and I know I'm having a boy. My husband and I are talk about how people will celebrate differently and it irks us. Thank god he thinks the same way! Even though we know we are having a boy it hurts us when people tell us that they pray for the best this time for us and hope we have a boy. I have visited India, I have seen how abortions are viewed as nothing more then a cleaning there. It is sad and scary. People don't care and will make any excuse to make sure they have a boy. When I got married, we did not give any dowry, neither for my older or younger sister. It's time that people start changing and its gonna start with our generation. People also need to start reporting this stuff in India. If you go and visit back home and hear of this, report it...somewhere...somehow...report it.

Kerry Chester, Dr. - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I work in Malaysia where the three major races of Asia meet; South Asian (Indic), East Asian (Mongoloidic) and native Archipelago Southeast Asian (Malayic). It was the same even here among the Indians and Chinese immigrants that there was a clear preference for boys, but never the Malay. In older times, many Chinese even gave away baby girls and invariably it was the Malay who would happily take them in and adopt them as one of their own children.

The Malay and their co-indigenous Indonesian neighbours are one Asiatic race that has no gender prejudice whatsoever. They don't even use paternal surnames. Malay women are fairly treated, there is no dowry by women and domestic violence or wife abuse is a small percentage of that of the immigrant races. Yet the Indians and Chinese think they are so much more 'civilised' races and look down on the Malay. How ironic.

QQ Na - Singapore, Singapore
Not every Indian family resorts to dowry and abandonment of female infants. My sister (who is a Chinese Singaporean btw) is dating a North Indian man and in his family; both his elder sisters are highly-educated (both had Masters) and have love marriages. It really depends on the family values of each individual. However, this doesn't mean that the actions of those who abort female fetuses should be condoned. Anyways, if this trend continues, perhaps polyandry (1 woman, many husbands) will be the way of life in India and China!

zaman mohammad - khost, afghanistan
This is Mohammad Zaman working us forces. I like the Indian peoples. I like to go to India because they are good peoples.

(anonymous)
This is shameful.

(anonymous)
Very sad news. I hope Indians do something about this. They might regret it someday.

ashley rodriguez - fort morgan, colorado
Well, I think that someone should not take the life of an unborn baby because that is just wrong. And women can also be very useful in many ways, sometimes in more ways then men. People of India need to realize that a baby is a special gift from God and you should not kill it!

karina mendez - fort morgan, COLORADO
This is dispicable & unacceptable. If they kill all of their women, their population is going to die down. So if they need to repopulate, how will that be possible if there are hardly any women left? EXACTLY.

Brad Riegg - Portland, Oregon
Abortion is murder. Whether you're talking about female or male babies, it's genocide either way. Imagine if we tolerated infanticide the same way we tolerate abortion.

rachel khoer - philadelphia, PA
I am sad to hear about the dowry where the female's parents must pay. In many Muslim countries, it is the male's parents who must pay the bride's family the dowry. India should make that a law as to put more value on having females.

Daniel Williams - New York, NY
India is a country battling with serious problems of female oppression and sexual crimes against women that are being ignored, denied or blamed on the victim - like in the recent case of young journalist Souyma Vishwanathan who was shot while driving home in Delhi. The city's Chief Minister blamed Souyma for being murdered and called her efforts to drive home at night "adventurous". Unfortunately, the ministers' response echoes a common attitude in India. You cannot really trust Indian statistics because so few cases are really reported in the country of actual crimes that occur.

(anonymous)
if the indian parents are going to killthe baby girls than is better to abort it... it is sad but let the indians in india laern the hard way and this dowry thing have to stop... cum on you indian man you merry a women cause you love her and want money from her parents.. be a man.. be like the white man's they are real gentleman you indians are scums.

Meera Venkatachalam - Exeter, NH
The topic is very disturbing but the coverage was thorough and interesting. The fact is, this issue is multifaceted. I have seen urban women who were bullied by their husbands and family to abort a female fetus when they had 1-2 girls at home. In one case, my mom's friend stood up to everybody and had the child. But some mothers and grandmothers are as much a part of the problem. They discriminate against their daughters and granddaughters, denying them opportunities for education and progress and instill in them a feeling of inferiority. They are often verbal abusers, deriding their daughters and spoiling their sons. In conversations, older women will criticize the next generation of women and complain that they have too much freedom. Until women support the next generation, there will not be much progress.

(anonymous)
This is for the woman from Lahore, Punjab: I understand that this is what you have grown up with, but you can't possibly think that this is your destiny! You have the power to invoke change, but you have to start with your mindset. Equal rights are not impossible, but you have to speak up, as well as all the other women.

mumtaz khan - New York, NY
The answer is in education. Then you will say that Westerners are more educated than anyone else. Then the answer is in Islam.I am telling anyone to become a Muslim, but read what Islam tells people about killing girls. Go to any good web site...and read for yourself. Best is to read the translation of Quran. 1450 years ago, Islam forbid killing of daughters. Education and fear of God are important. Islam tells us: Whosoever kills one soul is like killing the whole mankind and saving one soul is saving the whole mankind.

Erin F - Allen, TX
This video shocked me so much. I had heard of women in China aborting children for "practical" purposes, such as limits on children, but I had no idea this was going on in India as well. I am already opposed to abortion in general, but it made me so angry to know that people will abort their baby simply because she is a girl. And it makes me even angrier that the government essentially looks the other way while all of this is happening. What is the purpose in having a law if nobody really abides by it? I know that the parents in India think that by having sons they will carry on their family name, but it's pretty difficult to carry on a family name when the time comes that there are so few girls that most of the men can't get married and have kids anyway. It also bothers me with how much this exemplifies the idea of male dominance in Asian countries. By saying that male children are preferred to take care of their parents, that is essentially assuming that the daughters will never be anything more than housewives and baby makers. It seems very condescending to assume that women have nothing else to offer. I think the government needs to take bigger action in reducing female feticide.

(anonymous)
I am astonished that an atrocity such as this is happening in India and virtually no media coverage is occurring to make people aware. It will be interesting to see what happens once this generation of Indians grows up and struggles to find partners to marry due to the skewed gender ratio. It is saddening to watch women be pressured into aborting their daughters just so they can produce a male heir. I think the discrimination against Indian women is disgusting and needs to be stopped immediately before it completely alters the social structure of India.

(anonymous)
I am a teenager. After reading the story I now wonder that the missing girls in China and India results in Vietnamese women being traded abroad because there is lack of brides for grooms in these countries. I also imagine what happen in the future when the countries almost men, how can they get babies for next generations. I am very confused about why those parents do not love their children. How can mothers ignore to let their daughters die?

(anonymous)
Hi, this report is entirely true as far as north India (especially rural north India) is concerned. There are even villages without any daughters. But in the South it is different. I am from the State of Kerala in South India where the sex ratio is in favour of women.

Manickam Muniandy - Kuantan, Pahang
Baby girl or baby boy, it's the fate of woman to carry, but men must understand their responsibilities and be RESPONSIBLE.

madison, Wi
Its a true situation in India that boys are given preference over the girls. Why ? Son is a bread earner and because son would light their funeral pyre, etc, etc. Most importantly because son could demand dowry. Even today well educated girls, who select well educated groom for themselves are begged for lump sum amounts of money or jewelry etc etc indirectly by their well educated in laws. Thanks to the damn rituals and customs started or written by the so called pundits of the past (obviously men) that in no way are helpful to the bride's side. All the money on marriage celebrations are to be spent by the bride's parents. If the government enforces a law that the marriage expenses are shared equally between the groom and bride's side, it would make sense. Or on every girlchild, if the government gives certain privileges to the family, only then can the sex ratio be 1:1.The biggest hurdle is pampering the men in India. They are haughty and thanks to their mothers for bringing them up like that.

Laura Holtz - North Adams, Ma
Great work. Thanks for offering this piece. I'd love to see more from this journalist.

(anonymous)
Great eye-opener. With all do respect the cost is just too much. As an economist I see everything has a cost and everything has a benefit. The cost with girls sadly is too much and the benefit is very little. Besides it's us - Indians. We are all about saving money. If you can't afford it then you can't get it , whether it's a Beverly Hills mansion, a Mercedez Benz or a human baby.

Livingston, New Jersey
I was so impressed with this film. I am associated with an organization that has had as its benchmark Pro Choice. Since I am an advocate and believe in a woman's right to choose it is so difficult to watch this and understand how selective abortions are permitted. If a man and women choose to have an abortion it should not be to obliterate the female "race" from India.I hope that this film reaches those in India and helps in stopping this awful crime.
Keep up the good work.

Cindy Osmun - Redmond, WA
This documentary led me to tears. When tradition and culture supercede morality, the only solutions are heart and priority change - love above money and the strength to do what you would want someone else to do for you. Hear the cries of millions of the unborn. It's no different in the US.

L D - NY, NY
I find it detestable that selective abortion is going on in India. It is a country with 1 billion people that aborts .5 million females a year. However I find it more detestable that in the US, a country with perhaps 1/3 of the population of India, over 1 million abortions take place every year. As shocking as this documentary may be to the sensibilities of some, I submit that a documentary which enters some of the poor neighboorhoods across the US would shock even more. But I suppose this is a more gripping issue because India is "out of balance" while the US kills in equivalent proportions? Seems like an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

(anonymous)
Hi there,
I really enjoyed your film. Our charity operates a video sharing site based in London that specialises in films about global justice and issues. We have recently just finished re-launching our upload system which now is all flash based. We are trying to get the word out at the moment, and encourage people to upload to our system.The address is http://tv.oneworld.netPlease give it a go. Thanks, and thanks for making the film.JamieOneWorldTV

John Lunt - St George, UT
Is is possible that the imbalance of the youth may adversely affect the pysches of the young men? Perhaps leading them to be more war-like and thereby lead their country to confrontations with its neighbors in the future?

(anonymous)
The mentality of the people ought to change, can this be done through law???

Arlington, VA
Good report.
I guess south india does it differently
this is from 2004http://www.hindu.com/2004/10/31/stories/2004103111960300.htm

Glen Graves - Alamogordo, New Mexico
The dowry system is only a problem for the Hindus. Christians in India are not concerned with dowry and do not abort female fetuses. We need to support the Christian churches of India.

Jersey City, NJ
I traveled in India for 4 months, the common joke amongst travelers was the worst thing ever happen to India... was Independence. I was often disgusted by the behavior of the MEN and their treatment of all women, (Indian or no). Uncouth, lecherous, ill-mannered, pushy, immature, impolite and just gross! The fate of females in Indian society won't improve until Indian mother's start raising their sons to be decent humans! Even outside India the women don't raise their sons well.

Convent Station, New Jersey
Very impressive and informative.

Minneapolis, MN
In a very simple though distasteful summary, the problem of female feticide in India can be simply boiled down to the fact that Indian girls are liabilities to a family while the boys are assets. Yes, it sounds terrible to describe this in such an inhumane manner, but how else can you summarize the situation when the birth of a girl automatically means the family will: 1) have to pay a huge dowry later on, and 2) will lose the girl and her work efforts to another family so she will not be able to support her birth parents? Whereas having a boy implies the exact opposite -- that the family will receive a hugh dowry down the road and the son will stay to take care of his parents and will have a wife to help him in the task. Until this social system changes, people in India will abort female fetuses. From the perspective of the parents, this is likely at best an issue of future well-being and at worst an issue of survival in old age. These concerns trump any concerns over the morality of aborting female fetuses. We can criticize how horrible it is, but any one of us in the same situation might behave the same way. India will start to pay the price for this down the road when young men then have to compete for a limited number of females and many men are left without spouses. There will be plenty of frustrated and lonely males and this will cause trouble. But then we'll find a surprising situation: with the number of females so low, there will be families with sons in essence "competing" for daughter-in-laws and then the families with daughters will be in the drivers' seats. One can imagine far into the future that if this kind of situation exists throughout the country, the price of the dowry will drop dramatically or even be eliminated completely. Or, how about this scenario...the father says "You want my daughter to marry your son? Well, so does my neighbor...what price are you going to pay ME for having a daughter-in-law?" Unfortunately, before we get to that time there will be much suffering for the bachelors and everyone else.

- Springfield, Il
Very nice work. One also wonders - are families who desire sons so strongly open to adoption...and will the tradition of last rites ever evolve to the point where they are able to be performed by the daughter?

Isabel Margolin - Livingston, New Jersey
As president of the New Jersey Section of a National organization promoting the wellbeing of women and children, I applaud Neil and Marisa's passion and skill in exposing this shameful practice in the medium of film.

Sanjay Tiwari - New York, NY
A very compelling piece. I wonder where this specific issue belongs in the broader scheme of things with regards to poverty and illiteracy. Also, It would be interesting to know if this issue has grown since the economic liberalization process began in the early 1990s.

(anonymous)
Sara, I understand your frustration and I am happy for you that you 'escaped' to the US and live happily there. But I think you are being a bit unfair. India is a poor developing country but yet the state subsidizes education (for boys and girls), so you can at least get your bachelors and escape. At least give us credit for that. It is not easy to be free, when you have been colonized for 150 years and have to look after a billion people.

sara syed - houston, tx
I was born, brought up in India till I was 24, when I managed to 'escape' to the US to get an MS. All I can say is...if at all you want to find the living defenition of 'abused second class citizens' ...look no farther than the Indian woman!
Growing up in this culture...I was made to feel that I had to fend for myself [ if my parents could not afford to get me married because of either money or my looks - or the lack of a fair skin] and study all my nights away so I can make a livelihood for myself. My older brother on the other hand was allowed to do anything he pleased, which included, dropping out of high school, squandering money, doing drink and drugs and generally wasting his life...and yet... he is considered the ' asset' to our so called 'educated' family and he would constantly call me and my younger sister ' liabilities'....
I now live in the US, married to a non-Indian man ...and for the past 10 years of my life have known what true love, freedom, acceptance and security mean.

manyam mallela - 94114, ca
As an Indian I feel so ashamed of this immoral crusade against girl children. How can a nation that claims 4000 years of culture be so morally corrupt ? It baffles me and to an outsider looking at India they would only wonder how this is possible. All of the Indians including me are to be held responsible for this murderous acts. How can a country be called shining when it can't provide the opportunity to live for its most vulnerable population it's children. Many Indians feel helpless about their societal problems choosing inaction instead of fighting for justice. A nation that has gone this out of balance needs some radical action.

Alcira Forero-Pena - New York, NY
This problem is very complex; it has been explored and analyzed previously by economists such as Amartya Sen, and by noted anthropologists such as Barbara Miller. It should continue to be examined in the light of the expansion of an "open" economy, the worsening of patriarchal society's main features, and the poverty and lack of choices by large sections of South Asian and other populations.

(anonymous)
So it would be OK if the same number of boys were murdered as girls? Abortion is murder.

Yardley, PA
I am a big fan of your all your programs.I haven't see this show, but I think this is definitely something the world should know. I am originally from India, and Indians are quite aware of this practice in Northern India. But unfortunately it's a big social problem, all caused by the age old practice of dowry, where the girl's family have to pay huge sums of money to get her married. This is illegal, it has to be stopped.... Besides this practice , I feel women there are not treated as equal with men in most of the rural north India. I hope Indians worldwide should come together and do something about this social problem. Especially women and girl child.

sachin sanghi - troy, michigan
Other than dowry cost, the need for a sson is very deep rooted in the Hindu religion. Most people believe that to attain salvation, the last rites must be pefrormed by a son.

Michelle Reynolds - Adelaide, South Australia
One wonders how Indian society will respond once the present generation reaches marrying age - how will all these prized boys cope with not enough girls to go around?

Pamela Robbins - San Francisco, CA
Thought provoking and brilliantly done. Neil Samson Katz is an astute journalist who has created an insightful and extremely impressive piece of work. I look forward to seeing what comes next from this impressive reporter.