Kolkata, Jan 23 (Agencies): Seven lakh girls are killed by parents every year in India even before they are born, NHRC member and former envoy Satyabrata Pal claimed.

"When a woman finds she is pregnant, anxieties set in about the sex of the unborn child. Ruthless foeticide often follows if tests that are illegal, but easy to get, show it is a girl," Pal said while delivering the Sisir Bose Memorial lecture at Netaji Research Bureau here on Saturday night.

The former diplomat, who was quoting UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund and formerly known as United Nations Fund for Population Activities), also quoted another statistics about 2000 yet unborn-girls meeting similar fate in the womb for the same reason.

"While 1.72 million children die in India each year before the age of one, because of our gender bias, the mortality rate is even higher for girls than boys," he said.

Over 15 per cent of births are not planned as some parents have no access to family planning services.

Of the children born, 25 per cent are underweight at birth and continue to be undernourished, Pal said quoting the international body's report on status of children in India.

"The percentage of under five children who are underweight is almost 20 times as high in India as would be expected in a healthy, well nourished population and is almost twice as high as the average percentage of under-weight children in sub-Saharan African countries," Pal said.

Speaking about child labour, he said, "It is shameful that in the 21st century, world's largest democracy is still not prepared to outlaw child labour."