'Now they no longer feed them paddy husk or poisoned milk...they stifle them with a pillow or with a cloth.' (Kanchamma, a midwife from Alligundam village in Tamil Nadu) 'We knew the doctor at the scan center and...went to the clinic that he suggested and had the foetus removed. The next two times were also okay except that I got very tired and had to give up my job. My husband said having a son was more important than having a job.' (Renu, from Chandigarh, who has had four abortions in five years) India has historically had a deficit of women compared to most other countries, but we now live in a time when a systematic extermination of an entire gender is taking place right before our eyes. Until the 1980s, women and girls were dying either of neglect or were killed soon after they were born. Today, the horrifying reality is that, thanks to 'advances' in medical technology, they are now eliminated while still in the womb. Female foeticide has become an organized crime and the ultrasound machine has mutated into an instrument of murder. In Disappearing Daughters Gita Aravamudan uses the tools of investigative reporting to expose the imperatives that drive this horrific phenomenon. She unravels an appalling story of deeply embedded and destructive patriarchal beliefs, disempowered women who have no claim on their own bodies and the active complicity of a ruthless and callous medical and social system. This book makes it chillingly clear that the macabre practice of eliminating female foetuses spells doom for our sons as well as our daughters and is bound to have a disastrous impact on future generations.
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