Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thirty-five aborted fetuses have been found in a well in north India


Thirty-five decomposed foetuses have been recovered from a well near a hospital in India's Punjab, where girls are routinely aborted despite a ban on sex-determination tests, officials said on Thursday.

"A nurse has made a statement saying she has been working at the hospital for one-and-a-half months, and during this period 12 or 13 female foetuses have been destroyed," Varinder Singh Mohi, a senior government doctor, told Reuters.

The couple who run the hospital in Patran, 115 km (70 miles) south of the state capital, Chandigarh, had been arrested, he said. The remains had been sent for tests to determine the sex of the foetuses.

Girls are commonly aborted or killed shortly after birth in many regions of India. One recent study suggested half-a-million unborn girls may be aborted each year across the country.

Many families view boys as a better asset than girls. A handful of doctors have recently been suspended or prosecuted for carrying out selection tests.

Prosperous Punjab has one of the worst female-male ratios in the country with some estimates putting it as low as 500 or 600 females to 1,000 males.

The doctors who found the foetuses during a raid in Patran said records seized indicated that about 35 abortions had taken place there over the past three months.

The raid followed a complaint by a hospital employee who had a salary dispute with the arrested couple.

Officials quoting hospital employees said married women were being charged 8,000-15,000 rupees ($170-320) for an abortion.

"I always wondered how this place was always flooded with women when there were so many good hospitals in nearby towns," said Harbahajan Singh, a resident of the town. "I could never imagine what was going on inside."

Asia’s missing women

More foetus wells at Patran?


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