Female infanticide “under the silken sky” – a poem

“UnderThe Silken Sky”, a delicate poem by Magi Gibson about female infanticide in India.

Under the silken sky

He holds her tiny body
with the awkwardness and tenderness
of the first-time father.

A girl, his wife murmurs,
tears in her eyes.

Behind the house, under a milk-white moon,
in the shelter of a banyan tree, he kisses
his newborn daughter’s lips with opium,
he tamps her tiny nose with dampened sand.

Behind the house, under the dark shroud
of the sky, he holds her lifeless body
with the awkwardness
of the first-time murderer,
and weeps at the pain he hoped
he would not feel, and buries his guilt
in the shelter of the banyan tree.

Never again will he look into the eyes
of his wife, without drowning
in her tears.

And when he says her name,
and reaches out to touch her
he thinks how easy it would be
to kill her
when she turns her head
and looks the other way.

– Magi Gibson

Featured image from ‘Refreshments under the Banyan Trees’ by GD Paulraj.

Biologically, normal sex ratio at birth varies from 102 to 106 males per 100 females. But the ratio has increased sharply in favour of males due to female infanticide. The growing surplus of men has dire consequences for the human race, among others the trafficking of girls/women in the areas having shortage of women and these trafficked girls/women facing violence and discrimination. (United Nations)

  • An estimated 126 million women are missing due to gendercide  (femicide).
  • That is as many deaths as WWI, WWII, and AIDS combined.
  • Every year, we lose 2 million baby girls to sex-selective abortion and infanticide. That’s 4 girls per minute. More info.
Female infanticide in India
With an estimated 50 million women ‘missing’ from the Indian population, femicide is causing numerous problems within the country. Images from a recent campaign against female infanticide.

India has one of the highest female foeticide incidents in the world. Its female child population aged 0-6 years fell from 78.83 million in 2001 to 75.84 million in 2011. During the period 1991-2011, the child sex ratio (0-6 years) declined from 945 to 914. In the villages, where pre-natal scans and abortions are unavailable or unaffordable, girl babies are killed at birth. Femicide is a long-standing tradition here, as in other countries: there were tribes and castes that actually killed all their girls. Officials estimate that approximately 6,000 female babies were poisoned in just one region‘s villages over ten years.

Femicide in India
The Girls And Women Killed By Their Own Families – Louise Raw spotlights the 50 Million Missing campaign, and the work of one of India’s most determined campaigners against female infanticide. Author activist Rita Banerji faces daily threats and assaults for her opposition to the casual murder of women and girls. There is still no law in India allowing state or legal intervention when a child’s life or safety is endangered in her parents’ home.

Magi says: This year I am posting a poem I wrote many years ago as it seems so relevant to what it means to be born female. The biological reality. Let’s not forget the “international” in IWD. Women are an oppressed class when looked at on a global scale.


this probably means several of us worked together on the post

2 comments on “Female infanticide “under the silken sky” – a poem

    • 14th March 2017 at 01:14

      Thank you, Sophie. It is almost unimaginable, isn’t it? Yet femicide’s a regular occurrence in so many families worldwide, with all the pain and fear it brings.

      We can’t pretend that feminism’s nearly “done” while female humans are so much hated and so little valued.


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