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New Book Gives Gruesome Account of India Girl Killings

India's unwanted baby girls have been drowned in milk, burned alive in sealed mud pots or fed milk laced with poisonous seeds, but these days it is much easier to kill them in the womb .

These are some of the chilling anecdotes in a new book on how a traditional preference for sons in India has resulted in the extermination of generations of females.

India has only 927 females for every 1,000 males -- far lower than the worldwide average of 1,050 females -- and last year a report by Unicef said India continued to lose almost 7,000 girls every day through abortions.

The British medical journal The Lancet has put the loss of females at 10 million over the past two decades.

"With technology making it easier to find out the gender of a foetus in earlier stages of pregnancy, these numbers will only increase," said journalist Gita Aravamudan, author of "Disappearing Daughters".

Aravamudan's new book is trying to give "a face to the issue" -- stories of women forced to endure successive pregnancies to produce male children, and of others forced to have up to four abortions in five years.

"One of the most disturbing revelations came from a midwife who said she had killed hundreds of newborns. She had lost count," the author said in an interview.

In India, sons are typically seen as breadwinners. According to Hindu tradition, a son is also supposed to light his parents' funeral pyre.

Girls are often viewed as a burden because of the matrimonial dowry demanded by a groom's family.

The deep-seated discrimination makes many women more determined to have a boy because they do not want their daughters to suffer the domestic abuse and hardships they faced, the book says.

"Better to send her straight to heaven rather than make her endure this beating and kicking around," one woman is quoted as telling the author.

Others said they
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