daughters of India

On Saturday the young woman every one calls the daughter of India was celebrated as Indian of the Year in a problem dedicated to the daughters and women of India. It was a feel good moment though at the back of our minds we could not help remember all the women, girls, little girls and babies who have been abused in every way possible even after the gruesome rape and murder that took place in Delhi in December. For a nano moment our consciences were jolted out of their customary torpor and we found our lost voices albeit for a short time. Even our rulers were compelled into action. For a tiny instant we were lured into feeling that maybe things will change. But that was not to be. A leopard cannot change its spots!

The leopard here is our a mix of our minsets, our feudal ways and are so called traditions and mores under whose cover we run to explain all aberrations. Post december rapes continued with alacrity and impunity, molestations doubled, honour killings did not stop.

Yesterday, a 20 year old woman was kicked, punched in her stomach and stomped upon by her husband and his family when they thought she was carrying a girl child. The foetus died and another girl joined the alarming number of India's 70 million missing women. It was nothing short of murder. The story does not end here. This young woman had suffered much abuse. Harassed for dowry she was dragged to a so called Godman when she was 8 weeks pregnant and he declared she was carrying a girl. When she refused to drink the abortion potion prepared by the charlatan, she was kicked and thus lost her baby.

Just imagine someone you loved carrying her first child. Thinks of her hopes, aspirations and dreams for the unborn baby. One day she is taken to some religious charlatan who decrees that the foetus is a girl. What ensues is nothing short of the worst kind of murder. How would you feel?

How can a man who is an equal partner to the creation of this human being can mutate into a barbaric being ready to kill what he created. And what is worse is that he and only he is responsible for the gender of the child.

An eminent though somewhat maverick retired judge, who is busy sending mercy petitions for people on the gallows, stated in a recent TV talk that he stands for the death penalty in cases of crime against women that reek of feudalism.

 “The hallmark of a healthy society is the respect it shows to women. Indian society has become a sick society” are his words. And he goes on to say: I had said that death penalty should be given in cases of dowry deaths. In our country, young married women are often killed – because they did not bring enough dowry – by pouring kerosene on them and setting them on fire or hanging/strangulating them. Our courts have many such cases. This is a barbaric practice, and no mercy should be shown to such people..... I said that death penalty should be given for “honour” killing of young couples who are killed by their relatives or caste panchayats because their marriage was inter-caste or inter-religious, or was disapproved of for some other reason....In my opinion, crimes against women are not ordinary crimes, they are social crimes. They disrupt the entire social fabric, and hence call for harsh punishment.

For him all these aberrations are the remnants of feudalism many of us still believe in. Many of those who have been entrusted to bring about change, pay only lip service to change as they are still deeply feudal in their hearts.

The case of this young woman deserves no mercy. It is nothing short of murder and should be treated as such. Be it the charlatan, the husband and his relatives, they all deserve the harshest of punishment. But that will not happen. We all know it.

My thoughts went back to a letter I had written to a little girl who was still born almost 7 years ago. I reproduce it here in memory of the little girl whose life was snuffed away in the most horrific manner.

dear child...

they said you would see the light on September 3rd..

September 3rd passed and so did the 4th, and the 5th.. On September 6th your mother was in pain and everyone thought the day had come for you to land in this world..
your family had waited for you, your mama had carried you with love and great dignity, your papa never showed his feelings but believe me he wanted you so much, your little sister waited for her baby.. and your aunt did everything she could to make your entry into this world the best posible.. and there were many of us who already loved you...

I must confess that many wanted you to be a boy... some said it loud and clear, others in muted ways.. to many, little girls are a burden... in a society where there is less and less respect for women people have forgotten that we women are the life bearers... some of us wanted you to be a girl, your mama for one, maybe she knew you were just that...

You grew up inside your mama's womb and met all the appointments with the doctor who pronounced you fit and healthy.. then child what made you decide not to keep your tryst with our world, what is it that led you to give up life itself... without even 'tasting' it..

Maybe we forget that from the comfort and safety of ones' mother's womb, a child sees and hears and understands.. perhaps it is what you saw that made you refuse life itself.. the lack of respect for each other, the fights, the anger, the unfairness, the tears, ... and quite frankly child, somewhere I understand you... maybe you heard even those who wanted you to be a girl say that they wished you were a boy finding all kind of reasons to explain that...they forgot that it is nature who decides, nature that has to make up for all the little girls that were done away with... and you too were a little girl, nothing could change that..

Perhaps you also knew that the moment you would enter our world, you would lose your independance and freedom to decide, and that you would have to abide by laws made by a society ruled by men and that your life would never be your own...

Who are you: a statistic in the records of the hospital, a pain in the heart of many that will slowly fade away, a regret, a topic of discussions with its share of 'ifs' and 'buts'... I do not know..

To me you are the little girl who refused to be born in a world that she felt was not worthy of her... a child who took her one and only independant decision..

And we abide by it...

Bless you, wherever you are...