June 01, 2020
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Daughters Be Damned

Daughters Be Damned

NO one kills an infant daughter in Goagachhi. They merely send their daughters-in-law to the sex-determination clinics in Patna.

Barely 50 km from the district headquarter town of Katihar lies Goagachhi , an "advanced" village which prides itself on serving as a model for its neighbours. Men from this affluent Rajput village travel as far as Delhi to study. Pregnant women are sent to the nearby Manihari hospital for check-ups. Television antennae adorn the roofs of many houses. And the Goagachhi groom has a high premium in the marriage market.

All this takes meticulous planning, the village elders observe. "We send boys of marriageable age to study for the IAS in big cities. Grooms preparing to be officers fetch a hefty price--up to Rs 16 lakh, they say. Whether the groom qualifies or not is not important.

Nineteen-year-old Kalpana's father had paid Rs 3 lakh to get her a Goagachhi boy who as studying to be a school teacher. Seven months into the marriage, a pregnant Kalpana says her husband does nothing. "He'll never earn a paisa and we don't have much land--that's why I cannot afford to have a daughter," she says. Kalpana plans to visit a Patna clinic for a sex-determination test.

A silent participant in the conversation till now, 45-year-old Rangina Devi pipes up, "I have borne only sons." And in a lowtone adds that her two daughters died in the delivery room within the first hour of their birth.

In Goagachhi, the words female infanticide are met with disapproving looks. Goagachhi is a "modern" village, one is told. Says Rangina: "Why should we let those dirty dais kill baby girls? We would rather go to the machines in Patna."

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