Indian father accused of killing baby 'for being a girl'
By Sara Sidner, CNN
June 14, 2012 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Video - Breaking News Videos from CNN.com
Bangalore, India (CNN) -- Nineteen-year-old Reshma Banu sits on the stairs outside her parents' home, staring at the tiny screen on her cell phone.
The video on the screen has her mesmerized: a very short home video of her baby girl, Afreen.
The moments captured are precious because they show Banu's only child alive and well.
Afreen died in the hospital. She was three months old.
Authorities say the baby was admitted to the hospital with bite marks, cigarette burns and a dislocated neck. Police say she was killed by her father.
"After my delivery my husband had come to see me and the baby. He said, 'It is a girl, why did you give birth to a girl?'"
He wanted a boy, an heir. Girls were too expensive, he said. A couple of days after giving birth, Banu says her husband gave an ultimatum.
"For her wedding we will require a hundred thousand rupees (about US$1,800 dollars) for all the expense. If you can get that amount from your mother, then keep her, but if you can't, then kill her," Banu recalled her husband as saying.
She didn't believe he meant it and was sure he would change his mind once he held his soft, bright-eyed baby girl.
Three months later, her baby is dead, and her husband is under arrest, accused of beating the baby to death. Police say he confessed to the killing.
This is by no means the first case of its kind in India. Attitudes, traditions, and economics have come together to make being a girl a dangerous prospect in the country, doctors say. Most of the time girls are disposed of long before they are born.
How? Sex-selective abortions.
U.S. House of Representatives rejects abortion ban based on sex of fetus
India has a growing gender gap: The 2011 census showed that for every 1,000 boys six years or younger there were only 914 girls. It is the lowest child sex ratio since India's independence in 1947.
The United Nations has said India is the most dangerous place to be a girl. Dr. Anand Krishnan at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), who has studied the gender gap for years, agrees.
"Yes, largely this is from the point of view of mortality statistics for girls versus boys," Krishnan told CNN.
Sex-selective abortions are against the law in India but are still happening at an alarming rate, he said.
His study shows a surprising trend: Sex selective abortions among the educated and well-off seem to be more prevalent than among the desperately poor and uneducated. Despite greater prosperity, their mindsets have not changed and they have the money to pay for ultrasounds and abortions.
"A boy is seen as a better investment. They prefer boys," Krishnan said.
Girls are mostly aborted here. The people want more boys. There is a shortage of girls.
The explanation goes something like this: In traditional Indian families the men marry and bring their bride home to live and take care of his parents.
Girls, on the other hand, marry and leave the home without providing extra financial support.
Moreover, a girl's family can go broke trying to pay a dowry to get her married. Although outlawed in India, dowries are still common and take different forms throughout society.
Indian law also forbids doctors to tell a couple the sex of their child after an ultrasound, but many clinics break the law and do so anyway.
India has made an effort across the country to stop female infanticide.
CNN visited a village in Haryana state with one of the worst ratios of boys to girls, according to the Indian government. A campaign is under way to change villagers' minds about girls.
Tiny placards above the doors of several homes say in Hindi: "If you get rid of your girls, where will you find your daughter-in-laws?"
A teenage boy wore a T-shirt that said, "Save our girls."
Nonetheless, there were young boys everywhere and only a few young girls. Villagers only affirmed why there appeared to be an imbalance.
She had just come into the world. She was like a flower bud, and he killed her. I lost my daughter. What can be worse than this?
"Girls are mostly aborted here. The people want more boys. There is a shortage of girls," Chandravati said without hesitation.
The villager was taking care of her neighbor's newborn baby girl. She cooed at the baby while blowing cigarette smoke into its tiny little face, oblivious to the dangers second-hand smoke could pose.
She told us the poorest people don't have the money to abort, so they are forced to keep girls, but those who can afford an ultrasound and abortion get rid of female fetuses.
"So much money is required to get them married. Where will the money come from?" she said. "Everything is so expensive these days."
But India is a country filled with in-your-face contradictions. When it comes to women and girls it is a place where the discarding of girls is juxtaposed with the fact that India has a female president and speaker of the House -- and its most powerful politician is a woman, Sonia Gandhi.
Indira Gandhi, Sonia's mother-in-law, became India's first woman prime minister and one of the world's first female heads of government.
In 2011 the latest census data showed the literacy rate for girls is growing faster than for boys.
Afreen was just three months old when she was killed by her father who had wanted his wife to give birth to a boy.
Banu, whose husband is accused of killing their baby, and her parents say they always believed a baby -- boy or girl -- was a blessing.
Her mother, Maqbool Bi, had four girls and a boy. Though the family is poor, she raised her girls with great hope for their futures.
"With all that is there in my heart, my heart breaks every time I recall what happened [to my granddaughter]. Even when I was starving I raised my children, all four of them. I used to pray to God to save me from seeing any of my children die before my own eyes. My children should succeed in life. They should make us proud," she said.
Banu now lives with her parents in a tiny two-room home filled to a bursting point with family members.
She will spend her life struggling with the fact that she never got the chance to raise her first child because the baby was born a girl. With tears welling in her eyes, Banu said, "She had just come into the world. She was like a flower bud, and he killed her. I lost my daughter. What can be worse than this?"
Indian father accused of killing baby 'for being a girl' - CNN.com
Indian police: Man chops off daughter's head, citing her 'indecent behavior'
By Sara Sidner and Sumnima Udas, CNN
June 19, 2012 -- Updated 1531 GMT (2331 HKT)
New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Police in the northern India state of Rajasthan say they were stunned when a man showed up at a police outpost holding a bloody human head in one hand and a sword in another.
The head was that of the man's daughter, chopped off because of her "indecent behavior," Umesh Ojha, deputy superintendent of the district police, told CNN.
Investigators say the man, Oghad Singh, had paraded the head through the village on his way to the police station.
Singh's daughter, Manju Kunwar, was in her 20s and was living with her parents after divorcing her husband two years ago. Her father accused her of acting indecently with other men.
Family convicted in 'honor murders'
Authorities say Kunwar's mother is a farmer who was working in the fields at the time and was too distraught to talk. Singh works in a marble quarry.
The beheading happened on Tuesday in Dengar Ka Guda, a village in Rajsamand District about 400 kilometers, or 250 miles, from Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan.
Kunwar's head and the rest of her body were cremated according to Hindu tradition, police said.
India is filled with extremes on many levels, including how women are treated.
In India women hold some of the highest positions in society, from company CEOs to the president and speaker of the House, but this case highlights another side of India, one in which women still suffer the consequences of long-held traditions that govern their behavior in Indian society.
This month India topped the Thomson Reuters Foundation poll as the worst place to be a woman among the top 19 economies in the world. The foundation cited abuse, killings and discrimination on a scale unparalleled in the other developed nations.
Indian police: Man chops off daughter's head, citing her 'indecent behavior' - CNN.com
The point of giving these two stories is not to bash India, honestly I don't give a 2 cent p*** about that country. The point I wanna make was the corruption of Pakistani media in this regard. I would be greatly surprised to see if mainstream Indian media have given space to such stories. These stories were given by CNN, I am sure a trust worthy source to many. My point is to our media who it seems like is on an agenda to spread sensational news about Pakistan, and instead of going about it in a constructive manner which could be conducive to the inhabitants, it has taken a very irresponsible direction. After all the innate purpose of a responsible media is to bring betterment and positive direction in society instead of creating mayhem and belligerence. The human rights violations are not like non-existent in India or Afghanistan or China yet there media goes about it in a responsible manner. There is another dark side of the picture that Pakistani media in Pakistan runs different than one which ex-pats see in UK, US or elsewhere. I had no idea that sensationalism and unprofessional attitude will be at this height, in this age and time.