MUMBAI, India|SHIFTMEDIA|A man in India allegedly ripped open his heavily pregnant wife’s stomach because he wanted to find out if she was expecting a boy or a girl.
The man, who was identified only as Pannalal, is accused of slicing open his 35-year-old wife’s stomach with a sharp object in Budaun in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, according to NDTV.
Pravin Singh Chauhan, a senior police official, told the news network that the pregnant woman was seriously injured in the attack.
Chauhan said the husband has been taken into custody. He said the reason for the attack is still under investigation.
But the woman’s family said the man is a father of five daughters who desperately wanted a son. They alleged that he carried out the attack in order to find out if his wife was pregnant with a boy this time.
According to NDTV, the woman remains in hospital in a serious condition. Police said she is around six or seven months pregnant.
In India’s patriarchal society, the cultural preference for sons has skewed the ratio of men to women in the population for generations.
A study on female infanticide by the Asian Centre for Human Rights, a Delhi-based NGO, found that India has one of the highest female feticide rates in the world. Sex-selective abortions are also widespread in India, where sons are preferred to daughters.
A 2007 report by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) said son preference in the county is a “well-documented phenomenon” and has implications for skewed sex ratios, female feticide, and higher mortality rates for girls.
The preference for sons is motivated by economic, religious, social, and emotional desires and norms that favor males, according to the report.
“Parents expect sons—but not daughters—to provide financial and emotional care, especially in their old age; sons add to family wealth and property while daughters drain it through dowries; sons continue the family lineage while daughters are married away to another household; sons perform important religious roles; and sons defend or exercise the family’s power while daughters have to be defended and protected, creating a perceived burden on the household,” it explained.
The study found that whether Indian parents discriminate against a daughter depends on the sex of her older siblings—they are more likely to nurture a daughter if they already have sons, according to the report.