I have no answer.
Female infanticide is one of the shameful things that is happening in India for a while. Everyone talks about how wrong it is. Everyone tries to do something to stop it. I have not met anyone who supports it so far. And if you ask me, it is an abomination in a culture where women are supposed to be treated as equals or better than men. Discrimination of any sort is to be abhorred, but killing an infant or aborting a baby based on its sex – that is something unthinkable.
Yes, I believe in that. But recently I met a girl who asked me this question and I had no answer to her. This is the gist of what she told me.
From the time I was born, my birth was lamented because I am a girl. My parents and my family never left a chance to remind me that I had caused so much grief to them as they were expecting a boy, but I was born.
When my friends went to an English medium school, I was not allowed to study there as it costs more. So I was allowed to study only in government schools with the local language as the medium. The reason: I am a girl. I am going to study, get married and be a house wife. Why waste money for that? Not once I was asked if I wanted to study and make a difference in the community.
When I was in school, one of my teachers saw great potential in me and encouraged me in my studies. I started doing really well and one day, that teacher came home to talk to my parents. He told them to encourage me more as I might have a great future. Few days later, when I went to the school, he started avoiding me and in few weeks, got a transfer and left the town. It took me few more years and maturity to understand that he was threatened by my family members – who could not differentiate between a teacher encouraging a student from a pervert trying to take advantage of a minor child.
Little later, I was banned from interacting with anyone from the other sex, because I had attained “maturity”. And also because some family members thought, if I could attract a teacher as a minor child, imagine the damage I would cause as a girl.
Now, no boy was allowed to talk with me. If a boy smiles at me, I would get a severe beating. If a boy crosses our home twice, I would be imprisoned. If I wash my face more than twice a day, “Who are you trying to seduce now?” will be the question my family ask.
Then I went to college, with lots of dreams. Though the education was not very good as my family decided to send me to a college which has the lowest fees and also has many of “our people” to keep an eye on me, still I managed to study well and for the first two years, it was great. I was getting good grades and everyone who taught me said great things about my future. Then my final year came. I was told that this would be last year of my studies. The reason the guy who was supposed to marry me did not pass high school and obviously, I could not study any further.
Then after college, I went for a menial job. Top of the class in college and now, a daily laborer. My parents said – wisely – “See, that’s why we did not waste money on you.”
If that is not enough, I was harassed at the working place by everyone who has a *&%$. It is a miracle that I was not raped there. Finally, I got married to that “great guy” who is a drunkard and has no job. So now I have to work harder so that he can get drunk; if not, he beats me to a pulp. When I ask others for help, they say, “Oh, this happens in family life. Things will get better soon.”
Then I met a friend of mine who studied in college with me. I asked her how she was doing. Actually she got her PhD and working in a research lab. Except the pay scales and decency levels, she described the same story. Sexual harassment in the working place, a jealous husband (because she earns more), huge amount of dowry and occasional beating to get more money from her parents. When she pointed out that she has a PhD and she should be treated with some respect, it was crudely implied that she got her degree not because she has intelligence, but because she has got other things that male candidates do not possess.
If this was not scary, I met another classmate of mine who married her high-school-sweet-heart and has a baby girl who is 2 years old. And, a 52 year old man raped that 2 year old child and now she is traumatized. Apparently this kind of sexual attacks on kids are increasing in India in alarming rates.
Now, I am pregnant. So, this is the question I have for you. From birth, a girl is discriminated. Before a girl has to be in her sixteens before she starts getting teased. Now, she is raped even before she becomes 10. Everywhere she is sexually harassed, her achievements are put down, she has to take beatings for everything, most of them get married to some “piece of work”, suffer so much… so, don’t you think that killing that baby girl is probably the most loveable thing that I could do to her as a mother?”
I was stunned. I still stand by my beliefs that infanticide, sexual discrimination and inequality of any sort is to be abhorred. But, I am not the one who is suffering. I have suffered a lot in my life, but… nothing compared to women who have to pass through so much of fire in their life.
Unless we change our attitude as a society, unless every man changes his outlook towards woman, this crime of female infanticide will go unabated. When a mother sees killing a female baby as an act of love, how do you to stop it?
I still don’t have an answer. I don’t know if you have an answer. But there is one thing we can do. We can make sure that we don’t become a reason for one more female child being killed.
|Philippians 1:21“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
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