In Tamil Nadu, Salem district is the main region affected by the practice of female infanticide (killing of new born female babies). In 1997, when we first heard about this evil practice and the magnitude of the killings of new born female babies by members of their families in this district, Tdh Core jumped in to extend its services to stop this horrible practice. We believed that no mother could ever want to kill her own baby, but that she is forced by her family and the community to do it.
On 12 October 1998, Tdh Core started its rescue activity through a project called Poonthaleer at Edapadi village of Salem district. Poonthaleer” believed in bringing a positive attitudinal change within families towards female babies by interacting one to one with families and pregnant mothers.
We began by identifying the pregnant women who already had one female baby (as the risk of infanticide is high starting with a second female baby), After identifying the high risk mothers, from the 5th month of their pregnancy we interacted with their families to understand the reasons for their possibly killing the baby, and then we addressed the issues to instead save the baby girl, by offering counseling therapy and, if necessary, support to bring up the child. If the family still refused to keep the baby, we offered to take the baby under our care.
From 1998 to 2008, “Poonthaleer” saved 1,558 female babies from infanticide. Out of this, 90 % of the babies stayed with their families and 10% of the babies were given to “Poonthaleer” to care for.
Since 2008, no infanticide has been reported from the 72 villages of Edapadi Taluk of the Salem district that we work in. We still have our services operating in these villages to closely monitor the development of the girls saved by “Poonthaleer”. At present, Poonthaleer” supports 215 of these families.
The data for the rescued activity is given below (1998–2009)
Total pregnancy mothers identified and visited by Poonthaleer (1998-2009): 6368
Total baby born : 6234
Total female baby born : 2881
Total male baby born : 3353
Total no of babies rescued (1998-2009) : 1259
Total no of female babies rescued : 1175
Total no of boy babies rescued : 084
Total no of babies killed / infanticide : 285
Total no of babies given adoption by parents : 402