'Kalli Paal': How it Became the Killer of Female Babies In India?

  • 22 Aug 2019

On an annual basis, some 200,000 girls are killed because of gender bias. The majority of them are infants.

At the heart of these killings is a toxic shrub which is commonly found in South India.

Known as Kalli Paal and sometimes Oduvan in Tamil, the plant is also ingested by those attempting suicide.

Scientifically called cleistanthus collinus, this particular plant has also been used to kill female infants in several patriarchal families.

Plant of Death

Those who've ingested the plant, especially the leaves, are known to complain of tired legs, stomach cramps and even constipation. The plant has toxic substances in the form of Cleistanthin A and Cleistanthin B. Ingesting the plant in heavy dosages can be fatal.

Murder Tool

For some villagers in India, the plant has been used as a tool to rid of female infants. In India, there is still the practice of killing off female infants as families place further emphasis on male newborns. Commonly, the plant is mixed with milk and fed to the baby.

Go To For Suicide

Because of its easy accessibility, many villagers in South India have to simply pluck the leaves from the plant and ingest it in their attempts to commit suicide. The leaves are crushed to release the toxic liquid which are then either mixed in drinks or ingested directly.

There Is No Antidote

Yes, you read that right. There is currently no antidote available if you by chance get poisoned by the plant. Among some common issues people have reported to have suffered from after ingesting tiny dosages of the plant are neuromuscular weakness, respiratory failure, renal failure, hypokalemia, hypotension and cardiac arrhythmias.

Article Source: Taylor & Francis Online, India Today, Research Gate, Times of India
Photo Credit: Plant Key

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