International

Boatman rescues abandoned baby girl floating on India’s Ganges River

safe haven, newborn, abandoned girl, infanticide, surgery

A boatman in India rescued a baby girl in a wooden box floating down the Ganges River in mid-June.

Gullu Chaudhary was standing on the Ganges riverbank in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh when he and his companions heard the sound of a baby crying. After looking for the source of the noise, Chaudhary noticed a closed wooden box floating down the river. He immediately took action.

“No one was ready to go and check,” Chaudhary said, according to The Guardian. “I rushed and on opening the box I found a baby there.” 

He found the 21-day-old baby girl wrapped in red cloth. Inside the box were decorations of Hindu deities, ceremonial incense sticks, a horoscope chart, and a piece of paper that read “Daughter of the Ganga.” Chaudhary immediately picked the baby up and took her to his house. State child welfare officials then transported the child to the hospital for treatment.

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Although no motive has been found for the baby’s abandonment, women in India often face high levels of social discrimination and even violence. Tragically, the abandonment of baby girls is not uncommon in parts of India, particularly among poorer communities. In one district of 300,000 people, no girls were born over a three-month period, while 216 boys were born — a demographic anomaly that prompted concerns of female feticide, as Live Action News reported

Studies have shown the grand scale of the demographic problem brought about by the widespread practice of sex-selective abortions that has plagued India for decades. Despite the fact that sex-selective abortions were outlawed in 1994, as many as 13.5 million preborn baby girls are estimated to have been killed in sex-selective abortions in India from 1987 to 2016, as Live Action News noted. Other research indicates that the trend is expected to continue through at least 2030, with another seven million girls expected to be missing due to sex-selective abortion. 

As reported by BBC News, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has called Chaudhary a hero and promised to reward him with a new boat, a house, and government benefits for what he called a “matchless example of humanity.” He also announced an investigation into the abandonment, which is a crime under Indian law.

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