Morena is one of the poorest rural districts in Madhya Pradesh and the neglect of girls is ingrained. Girl babies are seldom given access to medical treatment and, according to locals, female infanticide is widespread.
When his wife died, Kirpal* had four daughters aged 5, 9, 10 and 12, but with so many girls his chances of finding a second wife were slim. Now only his youngest daughter is alive. Kirpal says the others fell ill and died through lack of access to medical treatment.
After his second marriage, his new wife Usha* gave birth to two daughters. Both died soon after birth. When her first child was sick, Usha's mother-in-law banned her from sending for medical assistance. After the baby died, "I cried a lot, because she was my first child," says Usha.
"So God dropped three daughters to punish us." Neighbours claim that Usha and Kirpal’s second daughter died after the mother-in-law stuffed tobacco in the baby’s mouth. Usha suffered taunts and abuse from her family until she gave birth to a son.
*not their real names
photo : ©Sanjit Das/ActionAid