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
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.
‘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
‘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.
‘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)
‘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.’
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)
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 dailymail.co.uk