|From a forward. Photographer unknown.|
Isn't this a heart-warming picture? It makes us wonder and marvel at Nature and other creatures who protect their young ones just "like us". Or do they? "Like us" I mean. Hold on, I think I would like to drop out those two words - it would embarass and shame all the creatures in the animal kingdom to be compared with "us", some of whom selectively destroy their young ones - not based on some physical defects, but only on the fact that they are females. Yes same the very same females of the species who procreate and bring forth new members of the species and protect and nourish the young ones.
Last month Baby Falak, a 2 month old baby girl died after being battered by some inhuman adult.
It shocked the conscience of the nation. If that was shocking, then what does one of a "FATHER" who battered his 3 month old to death? Yes that is the tragic story of Baby Afreen born to a 19 year old mother.
This young mother was married off at the age of 17 to a divorcee whose parents promised her parents that they would take her on a Haj 1 week after the wedding. The impoverished parents who could not afford to ever go on a Haj very happily agreed, thinking at least this daughter (of 3 daughters) would get to go and be ensured of her place in heaven. The son-in-law it turned out was a drug addict and would harass their daughter. Once the daughter was born, he asked her to get Rs. 1 lakh as compensation because the child was a female. And then started the sordid tale of battering the baby girl. When he tried to smother the baby about a week ago, she was brought to the hospital by the mother and was in a coma till yesterday, when to her good fortune she went to a better place - away from the monsters of this world. Had she survived, the chances that she might be challenged for the rest of her life might have been high. Better she was spared that agony. God decided she deserved better.
What do we say of a society where a daughter's life is decided based on criteria such as her chances of going on a pilgrimage? What do we say of parents who get their daughter married off before the legal marriageable age, without checking out the credentials of the man whom they are entrusting with their daughter's happiness? And sad to say I cannot write them off as the exceptions or as deviants from the normal. They are probably the norm in our country, even if their reasons for getting minor daughters married may be different.
What do we say of a mother who does not report the husband who batters her baby? What do we say of parents who do not bring their married daughter back home despite knowing that she is being tortured every day?
What do we say of a society which claims to worship female deities and sees a mother as a Goddess, but chooses to destroy young female infants?
What do we say of parents who destroy female foetuses before they are born? Or are they better than parents who give birth to them and then batter them?????
Should I consider myself as particularly privileged for having been allowed to live, learn and flourish? For having had a particularly good set of parents who were extremely enlightened for their times? Should I be grateful to God for this or should I be grateful to my society to have allowed me to be what I am today? Or should I be grateful to have been born in better times, before a so-called "ancient civilization" fell inexorably sick and started moving at breakneck speed in reverse gear into the dark ages?
This is the society which has produced Indira Gandhi, Kiran Majumdar, Kiran Bedi, Indira Noorani whom we tout as our claim to our "liberal, forward looking society". But then these are women we can count on our finger tips, while the Baby Falaks and Baby Afreens are part of an innumerable statistic - here yesterday, gone today, forgotten tomorrow.