Sunday, May 6, 2012

Will You Act?

There was a time when I was an idealist. I used to believe that the world was capable of change. And that I could be an instrument of it, helping change happen. Maybe I can – I don’t know, but how tangible a difference I can make is a very, very big question that only time could answer. But that idealist in me is long dead. What world is this that we live in, when all you do to help people, as a friend of mine rightly said (though in the context of DR Congo - it is as much truth in India's context as well!), are just putting bandages over wounds instead of actually tackling the cause of the wounds themselves?
A show on Star World today really shocked me out of my wits. Satyameva Jayate, it was called, the buzz word of India’s national “motto” if you will, which stands to mean that the “Only the truth will win”.

Today’s episode, the pilot, showed the stories of women who’ve suffered at the hands of families that did not want daughters, and forced them through series of abortions. One was forced into six abortions in eight years, not even having known she was taken for the purpose of an abortion each time, since she was hoodwinked into believing it was a general check-up. Don’t judge her for not evaluating each situation based on the previous one – hope and faith in humanity made her vulnerable. The seventh time, she ran away to her parents’ house and had her daughter. Another lady was bitten most savagely by her husband. Yes. Bitten. And the state of her face immediately after is not something words could describe. The savage, brutish coward of her husband did it to her because she only gave birth to two daughters, and never had a son. This - after he forced her to abort two girls, and beat her with a hockey stick when she was pregnant with her second surviving daughter. A third was the story of a Doctor who had twin girls – her husband’s family had the gall to throw one of the twins off the second storey in the hope of killing the girl – because she was a girl. Luckily, the child was strapped and wrapped so thickly that she survived the fall.

What kind of a world are we living in, really? How much more should it be written, shouted and painted on the wall that a girl-child is not a curse? How much longer before these warped mindsets would realize that it is the Father that determines the sex of the child with the XY chromosomes? How much longer before the world opens its eyes to hear the silent screams of the unborn girl, and put a stop to it?

 It is a cartel, a filthy, morbid association of doctors, mid-  wives, families, police officers and law enforcement agencies that allow the practice to flourish. How does one change this mentality? Where does one begin? I’m not denying the fact that there is an equal, and possibly worse degree of impunity globally. I’m not even asserting the fact that India is the only place that needs attention – but is certainly one of the places that does. India was the country where the brutal gang-rape of a social worker who tried to stop a child marriage from happening, took place. India was, is, and sadly, will remain for a while, the country where girls are killed because they are girls. And it is not a culture of silence, at all, but a culture of inaction that proves to be a hotbed for breeding of this culture of impunity. Everyone knows it's happening. Everyone knows where it is happening. But no one does a thing. I don't know if blaming people is the right thing - what can you do if the police officer you complain to shrugs and laughs at you, and sends you packing? What can you do if the doctors and midwives themselves are telling people that they'll wipe an embryo out without even considering the Hippocratic (or should it be Hypocritical?) Oath they take?

Foeticide is Murder. And why not? The foetus is as much a corpus as a full grown person is. If an unborn child has rights under succession law, contractual law and even tortious law, why not criminal law? When and if the judiciary realizes it, they can actually book these families and doctors under the offence of Murder.

The issue of foetal and infantile murder on gender grounds disturbs and bothers me. But here’s what bothers me more. Today, a nation watched that show. Today, a nation heard those women. Today, a nation cried with those women. Today, a nation resolved to act. Today, a nation saw the truth and heard the silent cries of the unborn dead. But tomorrow, will they remain steadfast in their promise?

I’m taking a leaf out of the said friend’s book, here. All truth is actionable, she’s taught me. And just for that, I want to be an instrument of change. And I will act.