There are just 13 girls in the village of Devra. A possible 14th could have been the victim of the widespread practice of female infanticide
In 1997, Devra village in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district reported the first marriage of a girl belonging to a local family in over 100 years. Jaswant Kanwar survived to reach marriageable age in a village where female infanticide was ritually and ruthlessly practised. A newspaper article at the time stated that there were just two other little girls in the village.
Now, more than 14 years later, an investigation has been launched into the reported infanticide of Jaswant’s niece.
The baby girl born to her brother and sister-in-law in a hospital was taken home, declared dead a few hours later, and buried. The Jaisalmer district administration is investigating the case, and the child’s body has been exhumed and sent for post-mortem. It’s the first case registered against a family for alleged female infanticide in Rajasthan where provisional data from the 2011 census shows a drop of 26 in the child sex ratio since 2001.
The baby would have been only the 14th girl under 10 years of age in Devra village which has 300 families. Grooms from this village seek brides in other villages and get hefty dowries. In 2010, the second marriage of a local girl after Jaswant Kanwar’s took place. At the time of Jaswant’s marriage, a newspaper reported that there were just two girls to 400 boys in the village.
Infanticide is said to be rampant in the villages of Haathisingh, Devra, Kotha and Jarila. Exposing babies to the harsh sand dunes surrounding the villages is said to be the most common method of murder. The districts of
Dhaulpur, Hanumangarh, Karauli, Bharatpur, Jhunjhunu, Barmer and Jaisalmer have low sex ratios.
The 2011 provisional census shows the child sex ratio of Rajasthan to be 883 girls per 1,000 boys (the average national sex ratio is 914 girls). The female literacy rate has grown only by 9%, the lowest in the country.