A newborn who was found alone and covered with ants Saturday in central India allegedly was abandoned because she is a girl.
According to police in Bhopal, India, someone found the infant after they heard her cries from inside a trash container, the Daily Mail reports.
A local businessperson Dheeraj Rathore told police: “I was passing by the bin when I heard the cries of a baby. I was shocked to see an infant’s head sticking out of a red polybag in a garbage vat among the bushes. Ants were all over her head and body.”
Rathore and several others nearby helped clean off the baby girl as they waited for police to arrive, according to the report.
Police said the baby girl was severely underweight, weighing 3.5 pounds, and remains in critical condition at a local hospital. According to police, she also had bruises on her body that could be signs of physical abuse.
Authorities said they are looking for the parents.
In the past few years, other reports of girls being buried alive by their families also have surfaced in India. In 2012, the BBC reported the father and uncle of a newborn girl were arrested after they allegedly tried to bury the girl alive in Pilkhua, India. In that case, a graveyard caretaker rescued the girl.
Last year, LifeNews reported about another gruesome case where an Indian woman’s in-laws allegedly poured gas on her and tried to set her on fire because they believed she was pregnant with a girl.
Experts estimate millions of girls are missing in India due to sex-selection abortions and infanticide. Culturally, girls often are viewed as financial burdens because of dowries and other practices.
The 2011 India census data shows there are 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under age 7 – the most unbalanced gender ratios in the world, according to the BBC. In some parts of the country, the problem is even worse. For example, in the Indian state of Tiruvannamalai, men outnumber women at a ratio of 1,000 to 878.
Discrimination against girls has become such a huge problem in India that doctors are prohibited from telling parents the sex of their unborn baby. However, the practice still occurs.