Body Parts Believed to Be From Fetuses Found in Well in India

Dozens of plastic bags stuffed with body parts believed to be from aborted female fetuses or newborn girls killed because their families wanted boys have been found in an abandoned well in eastern India, officials said Monday.

Investigators suspect a nearby medical clinic performed the abortions and possibly killed infants at the parents' request because they were female, although authorities have yet to conclusively determine the sex of the babies, said Yogesh Bahadur Khurania, a senior police official in the east coast state of Orissa.

He said police were also still trying to determine how many babies or fetuses had been dumped in the well near the Krishna Clinic. A television news channel said authorities believe as many as 37 had been found.

Khurania said the owner of the clinic, Sabita Sahu, and the manager, Shyma Sahu, have been detained for questioning.

He said police suspect the clinic in Nayagarh, about 55 miles west of Bhubaneswar, was determining the sex of fetuses — a practice that is illegal in India but remains widespread.

Many Indian families see daughters as a liability because of a tradition requiring a bride's family to pay the groom's family a large dowry of cash and gifts. Girls often don't receive the same education as boys and many don't get adequate medical treatment.

Last year, an international team of researchers estimated that up to 10 million female fetuses had been aborted in the past decade in India, a country of about 1.1 billion people.

The result is a gender ratio increasingly skewed in favor of men — there were 927 women for every 1,000 men, according to the 2001 census, down from 945 women per 1,000 men in 1991.