|Distraught mother of Baby Ameena|
First it was Baby Falak and now Baby Ameena, all in the heart of the metros of India. Thousands of girls are killed every day in what is made to appear as natural deaths, but these two names have shocked the nation recently due to the way the babies were battered. Many more don’t even get to see the light of the day, in what is better known as female-infanticide.
Why is there such a dire need for a male child? Is it because girls are expenses personified in a poor man’s world? Or is it because a girl does not carry on the name of the father?
Is it at all necessary to find reasons as to why people kill the girl child, except for the fact that this is done by inhuman and uncaring blot of a human being, who is misguided in his thinking and bestial (with due apologies to the animals!) to say the least?
Isn’t it ironic that such things should happen in a country where a girl is referred to as Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and where the worship of Mother Goddess is prevalent in every nook and corner of the country? A country that celebrates the nine-day Navratri festival which heralds the arrival of the daughter to her parental home should see spates of men killing their infant goddesses is a shame in itself.
Has this a precedence of sorts, though we have seen many cultural practices, or malpractices to be precise? None that I know of; though I don’t claim myself to be someone who knows a lot on such issues. But it has now become a practice to rummage in the past, however, the same is not to justify the happening, but could help understand the age of such customs and its prevalence as a thought-process.
I am reminded of a tale from the epic Mahabharata. This pertains to the birth of Satyavati. Let me begin from the start! Once upon a time, King Uparichara was on a hunting expedition and while resting under a tree, the thought of his wife got him excited and this led to the ejection of his reproductive fluids. The king wrapped this body-fluid as it was an auspicious period when such fluids were not to be wasted and gave it to a parrot to take it to his wife. The parrot was attacked on its way by a falcon and the leaf fell into a river and the fluid was swallowed by a fish. This fist was actually an apsara who was cursed by Lord Brahma to be a fish till she gave birth to human children. Sometime later the fist was caught by the fishermen and they found a boy and a girl when they cut open the fish. The head of the fishermen took the babies to the King of the land, who was none other than King Uparichara himself. The King decided to keep the boy and gave the girl the head of the fishermen! This girl was brought up as Satyavati who later went on to marry King Shantanu and was responsible for Bhishma’s vow. She was also the mother of Sage Vyasa, the author of the epic Mahabharata, and grand-mother of the Pandavas and Kauravas.
In this tale, there is a very clear case of rejection of the girl child, though the rejection has not been discussed in details. The King accepted the boy, who then grew up to be the king of the region and founded the region of Matsya, but the girl was left to be brought up by the head of the fisher-folk. Could this discrimination be the reason for Satyavati’s condition that her sons be rightful heir to the royal throne? Till her presence in the epic, she does take a number of strange steps which bring out her contempt for the men in the epic, but that is a topic for another day.
To reiterate, the above is not being related to the present day killings of infants. The above was just a case of an unwanted child. However, we do have other instances where an abandoned girl child was given all the love and care a child would need. The case of Sita in the epic Ramayana is a good example. She was found by King Janak in the fields and took her as her daughter. Or the case of the birth of Draupadi who got an equal status along with her brother Dhrishtadyumna, both of who were born out of fire to King Drupada.
Mythology is a mirror of the past and a thought-process of what went through the minds of the people then. Even there, when there was a difference in the status of a woman, such acts of bestiality cannot be found. I think that the modern man is more archaic than the men of the past and no explanation or justification is enough for such cruel methods of eliminating girl child for a boy. To say that poverty drives one to do so, is probably just an excuse for ones inherent desire for a boy child. Hypocrisy and such acts of bestiality should be condoned and punished in the severest way possible.
Social ostracism should be an obvious by-product.