© Vivek Prakash / Reuters
A pregnant woman in India was almost set on fire by her husband’s family after a soothsayer predicted that she would carry a girl, not a boy, local media reported.
The incident took place in the village of Muthukur, Andhra Pradesh state, southeastern India, the Hans India newspaper reported. Though the case happened on August 20, it has appeared in Indian media only recently.
The woman, identified as Girija, married a man named Tandra Srinivasulu two years ago. The couple already has one daughter.
When Girija became pregnant again, Tandra’s mother and sister contacted a soothsayer who predicted that Girija would have a baby girl again. In many Indian villages baby boys are still much more welcomed than girls.
The woman’s in-laws demanded she have an abortion, but she did not agree.
“After Girija refused, her mother in-laws attempted to set Girija on fire by pouring kerosene on her stomach while she was sleeping,” police sources told News18.com outlet.
The Hans India daily also reports there was some acid mixed with the kerosene. Neighbors heard the cries and called an ambulance. The woman was admitted to a private hospital.
News18.com says her health is out of danger.
The mixture of acid with the kerosene would seem to indicate that the mother-in-law wanted the young woman to suffer, not just die. This strongly implies a hatred of girls in India even by women. Until that attitude has changed there can be no hope of reducing the rape and murder of girls in that God-forsaken country.
Policies for police handling of rape cases have been reformed and a tougher punishment for attackers introduced, with convicted rapists now getting 20 years behind bars instead of 10.
Still, sexual offences have not subsided, with up to 40,000 rape cases recorded in India in 2014 alone, which is double the amount of attacks in 2012 (figures for 2015 are not yet available, but are expected to exceed official numbers). Furthermore, the actual number of rape cases is feared to be much higher as not all of them are registered with the authorities.
In many cases assailants are cleared of charges for alleged lack of evidence. In Uttar Pradesh, northern India, a massive public outcry followed an incident in May 2014, when two teenage girls from a low caste were also found hanging from a tree. Their families claimed they had been gang-raped, but authorities ruled out rape and concluded the girls had taken their own lives.
Women in India face numerous crimes of oppression, including rape, acid throwing and the forced prostitution of young girls. In 2012, India was ranked as the worst G20 country to be born a woman and one of the worst countries for women in the world by TrustLaw, a legal news service.
“In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labor,” Gulshun Rehman, health program development adviser at Save the Children UK, which took part in the poll, told Reuters.
In 2014, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said it was concerned over India’s “failure to implement relevant laws and policies and ensure non-discrimination.”