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LLB 6th Semester, Shobhit Institute of Engineering and Technology – (NAAC ‘A’ Grade Accredited Deemed to be University), Meerut.

Email id- gunjanmishra147@gmail.com

Phone No- 7838242314



Assistant Professor, Shobhit Institute of Engineering and Technology – (NAAC ‘A’ Grade Accredited Deemed to be University), Meerut

Email id- jkathuria@shobhituniversity.ac.in

Phone No.- 9368657498




Female infanticide and female feticide (the selective abortion of girls in the womb) are significant issues in India. Female infanticide has been a problem for centuries, partly as a result of the patriarchal nature of Indian society. Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of girl babies In India, girls are devalued, not only because of the economic consideration, but also because of socio cultural factors, such as, the belief that the son extends the lineage, provides protection, safety, and security to the family, and is necessary for salvation. Everywhere women are confronted with many challenges. The sex selection techniques are providing ample opportunity to the female feticide and socio-economic problems are providing opportunity of female infanticide. Even though the law is a powerful instrument of social change yet law alone cannot root out this social problem. Crime again women is an issue of national shame. Female feticide is perhaps one of the worst forms of violence against women where a woman is denied her most basic and fundamental right i.e. “the right to life”


Keywords- Female Foeticide, Sex, Child, inheritance, Gender Imbalance, India, Infanticide.







In India, primarily in rural communities, individuals do not appreciate the birth of girl children and implement the acts of female foeticide and female infanticide. These are the criminal and violent acts against girls. Foeticide is the killing of a female child, even before she is born. Whereas, female infanticide is killing of the female children within one year of birth.


Female feticide is an alarmingly common practice in India, as evidenced by the most recent Indian national census in 2011 indicating only 914 females for every 1000 males in the zero to six years age range[1]. The root cause of female feticide, a form of structural violence against women, is multifaceted and complex.


As the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare states in its 2006 annual report, “the social, cultural and religious fibre of India is predominantly patriarchal, comprehensively contributing to the secondary status of women”.


The high rates of female feticide reflect this secondary status. A lower earning capacity, the patrilineal social structure dictating inheritance, and the widespread practice of dowry contribute to the diminished position of women. Improvement in the socioeconomic conditions in India has done little to raise the status of women. Recent evidence reveals that sex selection remains common among the affluent and educated in India.



Indian Penal Code defines infanticide as the killing of an infant in the 0–1 year age group.[2] The Code uses this definition to differentiate between infanticide and numerous other crimes against children, such as foeticide and murder.


  1. FEMALE INFANTICIDE DURING BRITISH ERA (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_infanticide_in_india )

It is during 1789 that, British officials in India first became aware of the practice of female infanticide in the Benares State where the Rajput clan was ruling. Later in 1817, the Jamnagar kingdom (Gujrat), it was even more scary to know that the practice was so entrenched that entire taluks of the Jadeja Rajputs where no female children of the clan existed.


In the mid-19th century, a magistrate who was stationed in the north-west of the country claimed that for several hundred years no daughter had ever been raised in the strongholds of the Rajahs of Mynpoorie and that only after the intervention of a District Collector in 1845 did the Rajput ruler there keep a daughter alive. 


The British identified other high-caste communities as practitioners in north, western and central areas of the country, few examples are Ahirs, Jats, Lewa, Patidars, Mohyal etc..

Anthropologist Marvin Harris, and others were the first proponents of cultural materialism, their observation and summary suggested that these killings of legitimate children occurred only among the Rajputs and other elite land-owning and warrior groups. The rationale was mainly

  1. Economic, lying in a desire not to split land and wealth among too many heirs and in avoiding the payment of dowries.
  2. Sisters and daughters would marry men of similar standing and thus pose a challenge to the cohesion of wealth and power, whereas concubines and their children would not and thus could be allowed to live.
  3. The need for warriors in the villages of a pre-industrial society meant female children were devalued, and the combination of war casualties and infanticide acted as a necessary form of population control.

It is pertinent to mention that the First Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870  was passed under the leadership of Richard Bourke, 6th Earl of mayo, the Governor-General of India. The act had its effect in the regions of Punjab and the North-Western Provinces. The Governor-General of India had the authority to expand the Act to other regions at his discretion.




In the diagram below, the major causes /reasons of Female Infanticide in India are listed. The list is not fixed and there are many more reasons, few of them which are common and most prevalent are mentioned below :-



















                                                                                                    & many more



In spite of being criminalised, it is one of the most under-reported crimes. Girl children in India often face various challenges from their childhood to their adulthood. On every step, girls face more rejection, discrimination, and fear than boys. This might not be evidently visible, but it is true. Sex ratio in India is rapidly decreasing. This is mostly to do with what is the ‘value’ of a girl child in India. There is a strong preference for male children than female children.


India as a society is insecure. Girls are not safe and girls from poverty-stricken families are even more vulnerable. They are often subjected to different kinds of harm, neglect, and violence in the form of abuse, harassment, domestic violence, rape, etc. Most Indians have stereotyped opinions about girls. They are socialised to believe that girls will eventually get married and go to another household and serve them. Therefore, girls are often considered a financial burden. Educating them is not deemed necessary and their opinions don’t matter. This is one of the major reasons for preferring a son over a daughter.


The need of the hour is to change such narrow mindsets of people. This will help in empowering females. The government of India is trying to come up with various schemes to reduce discrimination against females and to change the preconceived notions people have about them. ‘BetiBachao, BetiPadhao’ is one such initiative that aims at providing survival, safety, and education to girl children.








India passed its first abortion-related law in 1971, the so-called Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which made abortion legit in almost all states of the country, but it was particularly made for the cases of medical risk to the mother and child conceived by rape.


During the 1980’s, sex screening technologies in India was easily accessible to the common people. Due to this reason, a large number of reports started pouring in about the abuse of the sex screening technologies.  Considering this problem, the Government passed the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PNDT) in 1994. This law was again amended due to various reasons, and it finally became Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) (PCPNDT) Act in 2004. Its main goal was prevention and punishment of prenatal sex screening and female foeticide.





In the landmark case of Centre For Enquiry Into Health And Allied Themes (CEHAT) v. Union Of India & Others, petitioners concerned about the implementation of the Act, moved the Union of India to Court for effective implementation and execution of the provisions of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, which had failed at achieving its goals of preventing female feticide.

The court warned the Centre, States and Union Territories to effectively comply with the mandates of the Act and also clarified to the appropriate authorities that it was empowered to take criminal action against violators. The Court directed for amendment of the Act in view of emerging technology and the Act was amended in 2003 to Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.The Court also directed the formation of the National Committee (National Monitoring and Implementation Committee— NMIC) to monitor the implementation of The Act.

The constitutionality of The PCPNDT Act, 1994 was challenged in Vinod Soni&Anr. v. Union of India on the ground that it violates Article 21 of the Constitution to the extent it includes the liberty of choosing the sex of the child. The petition was dismissed by the Bombay High Court and the Act was held constitutional.

In the case of Voluntary Health Association of Punjab v. Union of India, Hon’ble Justice Dipak Misra observed:

“All involved in female foeticide deliberately forget to realize that when the foetus of a girl child is destroyed, a woman of the future is crucified. To put it differently, the present generation invites the sufferings on its own and also sows the seeds of suffering for the future generation, as in the ultimate eventuate, the sex ratio gets affected and leads to manifold social problems”.




  1. BetiBachaoBetiPadhao (BBBP) Scheme

BetiBachaoBetiPadhao (BBBP) is a scheme that aims to celebrate the birth of the Girl Child by ensuring her survival, protection, education and participation. Launched in 2015, this Scheme aims to address disparity in the sex ratio across the nation by:


  • Preventing foeticide-biased abortion and post-natal discrimination against daughters
  • Ensuring holistic growth and protection of the girl child
  • Providing equal opportunities for education and participation to the girl child


This Scheme has been implemented in approximately 100 districts of the country that have a low Child Sex Ratio (CSR). Here, government officials at Panchayat and district levels work towards elimination of female foeticide and infanticide, as well as ensuring free elementary education to each and every young girl.

  1. SukanyaSamridhhiYojana

Launched in 2015, this Scheme offers incentives to save money for future use by female children in families. Any guardian can open a ‘SukanyaSamridhi Account’ in a girl’s name before she is the age of 10 and can deposit minimum Rs. 250 (maximum Rs. 1.5 lakh) in one financial year.


  1. BalikaSamriddhiYojana

Scheme of BalikaSamriddhiYojana was launched on 2nd October 1997 with the objective of raising the standard of living of female children born into poverty (below poverty line as defined by the Government of India). This Scheme benefits upto two girls per family, provided they are born on or after 15th August 1997.


A one-time grant of Rs. 500 id given to a mother giving birth to a girl child in a family that is below the poverty line. Further, the girl child can avail annual scholarships of Rs. 300 to Rs. 1,000 upto Class X.

  1. Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Scholarship Scheme/Policy for Girl Education

This Scheme recognizes the efforts of parents promoting education among girls and provides encouragement to meritorious students.It provides scholarships to meritorious female students who are the only child of their parents. They must pass the CBSE Class X Examination with 60% or more marks and are continue their school education of Class XI and XII.

  1. National Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education

Launched in May 2008, this Scheme provides incentives to female students enrolled in Class IX. The objective of the Scheme is to establish an enabling environment to promote enrolment and reduce drop out of girls belonging to SC/ST communities in Secondary Schools and ensure their retention upto the age of 18 years.

  1. State government schemes for the girl child

In addition to the Central Government Schemes, several others by State Governments are also in effect to empower and protect the girl child.For example,

  • Andhra Pradesh’s ‘Bangaru Thalli’ Scheme supports the family of a girl from her birth till her graduation, ‘
  • Mamata Scheme’ by Government of Goa provides financial assistance of Rs. 10,000 to the mother of a female child,
  • ‘Ladli Social Security Allowance Scheme’ of Government of Haryana provides financial aid to families with girl child/children,
  • ‘LadliLaxmiYojana’ of Madhya Pradesh provides financial help of uptoRs 30,000 in the name of the girl child,
  • ‘Kanya Sumangala Yojana’ by the Government of Uttar Pradesh provides financial help in the range of Rs. 2000 to Rs. 5000 as scholarships.  



Even though there are many mediums, awareness about female foeticide is being spread throughout the nation like plays, soap operas, mass awareness programs, ads, endorsement by various celebrities, BetiBachao campaign, rallies, posters, etc, the efforts are good but are not improving the the sex ratio of our country.


Either we can blame the government, the NGO’s or the society as a whole for all we like, but till the time the common man does not understand the value of a girl child, this problem will not be solved. The people of this country need to understand that every action has a reaction. Due to rampant female foeticide, the demand for girls for marriage has increased in the whole country. Due to this reason, flesh trade has increased. In one way or the other, it is the female who suffers. We need to understand the importance of a female. After all, they constitute one-half of the society. They should be given the same preference and respect which a male gets in the society.

References material taken from the below sites..

  1. www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pmc/articles
  2. www.savethechildren.in
  3. www.wikipedia.org
  4. www.wcd.nic.in
  5. www.amritmahotsav.nic.in
  6. www.blog.ipleaders.in




[1] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

[2] Section 315


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