Slaughtered in their thousands, the British babies killed in the womb just for being girls

I can’t even begin to judge these women for the fact that some cultures treat women who have baby girls with scorn, disrespect and disdain. Most of them also have to put up with being terrorised by their husband and his relations in the form of verbal and physical abuse.

Though this story gives the UK version of events, we all know the issue of the girl child is a major one right here in Nigeria. Though most families lack the wherewithal to determine the baby’s sex before birth, a good number of women are regularly terrorised for the crime of having of having baby girls. It has led to broken marriages and broken bones. The irony of the whole thing is that everyone was born by a woman. Nobody fell from the sky or was born by a man.

May God preserve us from the evil of selective abortion. We also owe it a duty to educate more men about how the baby’s sex comes about. Perhaps it will help ease the agony these women have to endure and reduce the spate of these killings.


  • Up to 4,700 unborn girls are estimated to  have been deliberately aborted
  • In some areas ratios reach 120 boys for  every 100 girls for the 2nd child
  • Having a girl can be seen as a ‘shame’  and ‘disappointment’ in community
  • Many women tell tales of suffering at the  hands of their husbands

By Sue Reid

Selective abortion of female foetuses has provoked shifts in the sex-ratio of migrant communities in favour of boys

Selective abortion of female foetuses has provoked  shifts in the sex-ratio of migrant communities in favour of boys

From a terrace house near London’s Olympic  Stadium,  a mother whispers her secret down the phone to me. She is  speaking fast because she is afraid someone will come in before she has told me  the shocking story of how she killed her unborn baby after an NHS hospital  pregnancy scan revealed she was expecting a girl.

‘I went to a private abortion clinic and lied  that I could not cope with the baby because I was so young,’ says 33-year-old  Asha, a former bank clerk.

‘I was panicking that I was going to have a  girl because I knew my family wanted a boy. I was worried about her future  growing up in my community that is still deeply hostile to girls. She would have  to fight prejudice all her life, as I have done.’

Listening to her words, it is hard to believe  they are being spoken by a British-born mother in the sophisticated capital of a  modern, first-world country, where women have enjoyed the same voting rights as  men since 1928.

Yet Asha, a Sikh whose parents came here from  the Punjab, is telling me about a practice campaigners fear is worryingly common  among some families living here originally from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and  Bangladesh. It has been discovered that the selective abortion of female  foetuses (often with the unwitting connivance of the NHS) has provoked  significant shifts in the natural sex-ratio of these migrant communities in  favour of boys. Up to 4,700 unborn girls are estimated to have been deliberately  aborted, following an analysis of the 2011 national census figures which  revealed that in some areas of Britain, the proportion of boys born compared to  girls is much higher than the natural rate.

The usual ratio is 105 boys to 100 girls,  which keeps the population balanced as boys are more likely to die in childhood.  But in some areas of the UK, ratios have reached as high as 120 boys for every  100 girls for the second child of families.

Asha, who spoke to me on condition of secrecy  and is afraid of repercussions from her family for doing so, is far from alone  in aborting a girl baby.

Rani Bilkhu, of the Slough-based women’s  charity Jeena International, which is campaigning to halt the sex-selective  abortions, told the Mail: ‘The Government can no longer brush this practice  under the carpet as they have done. They are hiding behind political correctness  to appease certain migrant communities who practise what I call “womb  terrorism”.

‘This is not a debate about the rights and  wrongs of abortion, but an issue of violence against women before they are  born.

‘It is common among Pakistani, Indian and  Bangladeshi communities not to value girls. Gender-selective abortions are rife  in their home countries and the same practices have been brought here to  Britain.

‘We went home and soon he told me I must get rid  of  the baby. I begged him to let me keep it as I thought it was too late  for an abortion. Then he attacked me to try and get me to  miscarry’

‘Even women born and brought up here are  ashamed if they have girls rather than boys. It is not a religious thing, but a  cultural belief that boys are superior and of more value to the  family.

‘When I had a daughter myself, I found that  other members of the Sikh community felt sorry for me. They did not congratulate  me on having a healthy child but tried to commiserate with me because it was not  a boy. I am always hearing women who have had girls being told “better luck next  time”.

‘A baby girl is viewed as a financial burden  and is a second-class citizen. It is a village mentality and the further up  north in the UK you go, the worse it gets. It is just like living back home in  the Punjab where baby girls are routinely aborted by the mother eating a  poisonous plant.’

Jasvinder Sanghera, a Midlands-based  campaigner opposing forced marriages and ‘honour’ violence against women, has  also warned that there is ‘absolutely no doubt’ that sex-selective abortions are  happening in Britain.

Sue has heard stories of women being put under pressure  to have abortions to get rid of baby girls

Sue has heard stories of women being put under pressure   to have abortions to get rid of baby girls

‘I think almost any Asian woman you talk to  would say she feels pressure to have a male child.

‘There will be many, many Asian women out  there who are pregnant and who are  thinking “please, please let it be a boy”.  In those circumstances, women are seeking abortions if they find out the child  is a girl.’

I have heard heartbreaking stories  of  women being put under pressure  to have abortions to get rid of baby girls.  Divya, a 33-year-old Sikh  from  the Midlands, remembers how she  was  sat down by her mother-in-  law in the front room of her home  when she  became pregnant with her  second girl.

A scan at the local NHS hospital had  confirmed the child was female. Instead of the congratulations she might have  expected, her family, even her husband, begged her to get rid of the baby.

She resisted the  pressure, but it  irretrievably changed  her relationship with her husband, who sided   with his mother in telling  his wife their unborn girl ‘should disappear’.

Even now, ten years later, she feels that the  family do not love her daughters as much as they would if they were boys.

‘When I had a daughter myself, I found that other  members of the Sikh community felt sorry for me’

‘I know that they wish my second child  was a  boy and that they think me giving birth to another girl has  brought shame on  the whole family here and back in India. It’s a bone of contention between me  and my husband which has not helped our marriage. I have refused to have any  other children as a result.’

In South-West London, a 32-year-old Muslim  housewife called Uraj had an even more sad tale to tell. She lives in a council  house with her two girls of seven and eight after being divorced by her  Pakistani husband, who beat her up when she was expecting her second daughter,  hoping she would lose the baby.

‘He tied my hands behind my back with string,  pushed me  to the floor, and then began to hit me. He was aiming at my  stomach and I curled in a ball to protect the baby,’ she told me last  week.

‘He pulled out clumps of my hair, gave me a  black eye, and beat me on my arms, legs and body. When he had finished with me,  I was unconscious. I came round and managed to ring the police, who turned up to  arrest him, but he  had disappeared.’

Uraj never saw her husband again. He had fled  to Pakistan. A few months later, after she’d had the baby girl alone  in  her local NHS hospital,  she received a solicitor’s letter  asking her  to agree to a divorce. She agreed.

Today, she remembers the traumatic events  that led  up to that beating, which  doctors later told her could have  killed her.

In some areas of the UK, ratios have reached 120 boys for every 100 girls for the second child of families (picture posed by model)

In some areas of the UK, ratios have reached 120 boys  for every 100 girls for the second child of families (picture posed by  model)

‘I had an arranged marriage when I was 22  after meeting my husband in Karachi, Pakistan, at a family wedding.

‘He was 15 years older than me, but both the  families approved of the  match. We moved to Britain and our first baby was a  girl. He did  not  like that at all and made it clear he wanted the next  child we had to be a boy,’ she says now.

‘When I became pregnant with my second baby a  year later, I was definitely very worried it would be a girl. My husband took me  to the NHS hospital for a scan  when I was five months into the  pregnancy.

‘After they had done the scan, my husband was  the one to ask the nurses what the sex of  the baby was. The nurses said a  girl, and he went very quiet. I was very frightened about what would happen  next.

‘We went home and soon he told me I must get  rid of  the baby. I begged him to let me keep it as I thought it was too  late for an abortion. Then he attacked me to try and get me to  miscarry.

‘I think now that he hated me for the fact I  had given birth to girls. He was never fatherly to my first daughter. He never  picked her up, cuddled her, or looked at her.

‘My daughters had brought shame on his  family. Even  my own sister said I should have stayed with him, got   rid of my second girl, and  made the marriage work,’  she recalls.

‘I also think it would have been a  better  marriage if I’d had a boy. It would have been a success because  having a boy  would have made him happy.’

‘I think it would have been a better marriage if I’d  had a boy. It would have been a success because having a boy would have made him  happy’

Following recent revelations, the  Government  has launched an investigation into the  rate of illegal  abortions of  female foetuses in some of our ethnic communities.

Officials are being pressed  by  campaigners, such as the vocal Rani Bilkhu, to keep the sex of an unborn child  secret from parents-to-be during ultrasound scans in order to prevent abortions  of girls later taking place. NHS England says that disclosing the sex of a  foetus is a decision to be made locally by hospital trusts, although a resulting  abortion on the grounds of gender-selection is against the law and unacceptable.

While many hospitals still offer this  information to parents, a number of trusts withhold it – unless it is directly  requested – until a later date in the pregnancy.

For instance, Wexham Park Hospital in Slough  – a  town with a high ethnic  minority population, where the Jeena  International charity is based and where it says there are many cases of  selective abortions – confirms it has a policy of not offering information on a  child’s gender but would, if asked, reveal it at a 20-week scan.

Ms Bilkhu says that a combination of events  lead up to the horrific abortions. In almost all cases, the process begins with  an NHS scan when the hospital staff tell  the couple that they are  expecting a girl.

The parents then go to a  private clinic  and pay for the abortion or ask their local GP to authorise the procedure.

In either case, they do not tell the truth  about the reason they want an abortion, often citing excuses such as their  family being too big already  or not having enough money  for more  children.

Often, the parents lie that  the wife  will not be able to  cope emotionally with an  extra baby.

One woman was divorced by her Pakistani husband, who beat her up when she was expecting her second daughter (picture posed by model)

One woman was divorced by her Pakistani husband, who  beat her up when she was expecting her second daughter (picture posed by  model)

It was exactly how Asha and her husband, an  office manager in East London, organised  the abortion of their own little  girl. Asha was 21 and had already had two healthy boys when she fell pregnant  with  her third child.

‘I was so worried it would be a girl that I  began to panic. I could not face the thought of having a daughter or what   my own family or my in-laws would say if it was not a boy,’ she  remembers.

‘When you have a baby girl in the south Asian  community, they treat you as if someone has died. If anything, the number of  women having  these selective abortions is getting bigger.

‘I believe there are more girls now being  killed than ever before. There is such a strong feeling that boys are  best.

‘The dread over the cost of paying a dowry to  the husband when a daughter marries hangs over families from the day a daughter  is born. A dowry cripples the girl’s family financially. Cash is handed over,  gold, cars, washing machines. The system is a lot to blame for sex-selective  abortions.’

And so, like so many other women, when the  NHS scan showed Asha was expecting a girl she went to a well-known abortion  clinic, which has branches up and down the country, and spun the yarn she would  not be able to cope with the child.

‘I already had two healthy sons and I was  panicking. I  did not tell the doctors or nurses that I knew the baby was a  girl from my NHS scan and I paid for the abortion  privately. They believed  my story,’ she says.

Then as she starts to say goodbye at the end  of our phone conversation, she adds a sad postscript: ‘I often regret that  abortion and there are days when I think a lot about the daughter I never  had.’ Many thousands of other women must feel the same about their lost girls  too.

Culled from

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