Villagers in eastern India rescued a newborn girl who was found buried alive in a landfill site. The baby, believed to be only a few hours old, was buried alive in a shallow pit on Saturday and left to die. A young girl who happened to be passing spotted the baby’s tiny feet poking through the dirt in which she was buried and ran to a nearby village to fetch help.
The newborn was found buried alive in a sand pit at a landfill site in the Jajpur district of Odisha state, an area of the country with a very high poverty rate, according to the Daily Mail. A girl noticed the baby’s feet poking through sand and rushed to alert residents of a nearby village. The villagers rushed to the site and rescued the newborn from the sand pit. They took the baby to the hospital where she was placed under observation after receiving treatment, district officials said.
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Faninda Kumar, Jajpur district’s chief medical officer, told AFP that the baby was recovering. He described the newborn as a full term baby with a normal weight of about 2.5 kg.
“She is doing fine and all her parameters are normal,” the chief medical officer said. “She is a full term baby, weighing around 2.5 kg.”
“Her umbilical cord was intact and body was still covered with vernix,” he added.
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Several shocked witnesses spoke with reporters about the incident.
“It was a little kid who first saw the feet of the child buried under a compost dump in a field,” a witness, Alok Rout, said. “Later we rushed to the spot and rescued the newborn girl.”
Rout said that when the villagers rescued the baby from the pit her face was covered with a small piece of cloth.
Hospital staff named the newborn Dharitri, a Sanskrit word that means, “the earth,” in reference to the fact that the newborn was pulled out from a shallow grave.
Medical authorities said that after the baby recovers fully she would be handed over to the state child welfare system.
A police spokesperson told AFP that investigators believe the baby might have been abandoned because of her gender. The area has a high rate of poverty and poor Indian parents often go to extreme lengths to avoid keeping a female child. Girls are often considered to be a financial burden because they will be married off. But boys are considered assets because it is assumed they will grow up to earn money and support their parents in old age.
The police spokesperson also suggested that the newborn might have been abandoned by an unmarried mother.
“We are trying to track the parents of the girl,” police spokesperson Jyoti Prakash Panda told AFP. “Chances are it was a case of female feticide and it is clear that the accused wanted to kill her.”
“A case has been lodged against the unidentified parents of the child and family members,” Police Inspector Amitabh Mohapatra said. “An investigation is on to find out where the child was born and under which circumstances it was buried.”
Female feticide and infanticide rates are comparatively high in India, especially in rural areas where male children are valued more than female children. The Indian authorities have reported a sex ratio gap that suggests that a disproportionate number of female fetuses are being aborted and that millions of newborn girls are being killed at birth so that families can try once again for a male child.
The latest official count conducted in 2011 found that there was an average of 940 females to 1,000 males in India. A study conducted in 2011 by the British medical journal The Lancet also found that Indian parents seeking male children might have aborted up to 12 million girls in the past 30 years.
The Indian authorities were forced to ban prenatal sex determination because citizens were abusing it for the purpose of aborting unwanted female fetuses.
According to the Daily Mail, police arrested a doctor in western Maharashtra state after 19 female fetuses were found dumped in a sewer. Investigators believed that the fetuses were dumped in the sewer after they were aborted illegally at the doctor’s clinic.
[Featured Image by Allison Joyce/Getty Images]