“You Go Girl” Has a Completely Different– and Deadly – Meaning in India

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Parveen Khan did not need to read the Telegraph’s 2012 story that girls born in India were almost twice as likely to die before reaching the age of five than boys, according to new UN figures. When Khan kept getting pregnant with girls, her husband, Hameed, was mad enough to bite her face off.

It wasn’t so bad with the first daughter, although Hameed was very displeased and expressed his wish for a boy. When Khan was pregnant a second time, Hameed “pulled me from my hair and dragged me to the hospital to find out” the sex, Khan said. Without asking, he forced her inside the hospital and got the baby aborted. Within a year, he forced her to abort yet another female fetus. Then, she had a miscarriage.

In the course of two years, she had lost three children and the mental trauma and physical exhaustion took a toll on her. So, when she became pregnant yet again, she concealed it from her husband until she was six months along. But when Hameed and Khan were arguing about something, he locked her in a room and started hitting her with a hockey stick. Hameed hit her with full swing and she fell to the ground and started bleeding. The baby girl survived, but one day Hameed gave into his anger and in fact did bite her face off.

He pounced on her and started biting on her face “like an animal,” and intended to bite off her nose because “[in] our society is a punishment for giving him a bad reputation,” Khan told Al Jazeera’s Shereena Qazi in November 2017.

Between 1960 and 2016, the Infant Mortality Rate in India declined from 163.8 per 1,000 live births to 34.6. In 2011, a U.N. report on determinants of sex differentials in childhood mortality singled out India and China, “where the female disadvantage in under-five mortality is large and persistent.”

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report published five charts showing the difference in violence against males and females.

While domestic violence is not restricted to India, the targeting of female fetuses and infant mortality rates among the Indian population is statistically significant and this cultural phenomenon is not limited to the Indian sub-continent.

The preference for boys and the availability of sex-selective operations, although technically illegal, has resulted in a gender gap of as many as 63 million girls, classified as “missing” by the comprehensive Economic Survey 2017-18. Couples’ tendency to keep trying until a boy is born has also led to the birth of an estimated 21 million girls, who the report terms “notionally unwanted,” with some reports claiming that one in 10 baby girls born in Britain from Indian-born mothers is missing.

Source: Shereena Qazi, “Gender Violence in India: ‘Daughters are Not a Burden’,” Al Jazeera, November 17, 2017, www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/11/gender-violence-india-daughters-burden-171114101046432.html.

Student Researcher: Onesha Pierre-Gilles (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)