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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 May, 2003, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Baby-swap inquiry opens in India
By Omer Farooq
Hyderabad

Indian child
Girls may be seen as a liability by some Indian families

Police in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad have launched investigations after a woman complained that hospital staff replaced her new-born boy with a baby girl.

Police said Latha Reddy gave birth to a boy in the Nayapul Government Maternity Hospital in Hyderabad on 16 April.

Hospital staff showed the baby to the mother before taking him to the intensive care unit.

But five days later when the child was returned to her, the woman said she discovered that it was now a baby girl.

The mother refused to accept the child and her husband filed a complaint with the police.

A DNA test was carried out on the mother and the baby girl and it established that Ms Reddy was not the mother of the child.

Police said they have launched criminal investigations against the hospital staff following the DNA report.

Gangs 'target boys'

Meanwhile, Ms Reddy and her family are carrying out a protest sit-in at the hospital demanding the boy is returned to them.

The baby girl, who is facing an uncertain future, has been moved to a children's hospital in the city.

This is not the first time that a government-run maternity hospital has been accused of baby swapping in the state.

In a series of cases, new-born babies were stolen from hospital wards in what was believed to be a child trafficking racket by organised gangs.

Police say such gangs prefer to steal baby boys because of a gender bias against the girls in India.

A daughter is unwelcome in many poor families as parents can ill-afford the traditional dowry and other marriage expenses which follow when the girl grows up.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nicola Kohn
"This is not the first time allegations of baby-swapping have arisen in Andhra Pradesh state"



SEE ALSO:
Couple's baby swap nightmare
15 Mar 00  |  South Asia



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