If she was born somewhere else.

Just when I blogged about our attitude towards mothers, in cases of teen pregnancy, here’s another horrifying piece of  news,

To save herself from the ignominy of being a unwed mother, a 16-year-old girl left her two-hour-old baby girl to die at a park… near a water tank wearing minimal clothes. The child was bleeding and even the umbilical cord had not been properly cut. Following pressure from her family members …after the baby was born around midnight, she took her baby from her sector 5 residence and left her near the water tank at sector 9, [Click to read details]

Another news article says,

There were blood stains all the way from the spot till the door of her house,… the girl’s condition was bad as the baby had been delivered at home. She was taken to BK Hospital, where she is currently under treatment. The police said the girl’s mother told them that her daughter had had an affair with a boy in the neighbourhood, who later refused to marry her when she found that she was pregnant” [Click to read more]

A third news article says,

A 16-year-old girl was arrested for allegedly abandoning her day-old baby girl after giving birth on Wednesday nightA case under Section 317 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 9 police station. [Click to read more]

Why isn’t the father arrested? Isn’t he equally responsible?

This must be traumatic for a 16 year old.  Do we have special laws to handle such cases?

The way I see it, she must have found herself isolated. She needed medical and emotional support. Instead her family let her go out two hours  after the delivery to abandon the baby, bleeding and cold.  The baby had turned blue when she was found. They probably did not know that they could give the baby up for adoption.

What if the trauma, physical and emotional, and the postpartum depression drive her to suicide?

Is that a solution? A  moral lesson to all the other immoral girls perhaps, because the last line in one news article said,

There has been a growing number of such incidents in Faridabad town with five pregnancies out of wedlock reported in the past three months.”

To some Indians that is the biggest concern here.

For anyone who says the 16 year old is at fault, I would say if she knew or understood the consequences of what she was doing, she would have at least used contraception. We do not think a 16 year old can drive, drink, vote, marry or take decisions, but we are ready to arrest her and blame her for being a victim of ignorance and bad judgement.

And what about the father?

Perhaps the parents feel they had no choice. And now who would marry a girl with a baby, bad reputation and a police record?  (And goes without saying, No Marriage No Life, for an Indian woman).

Now would it not have been lucky for this girls if she was born in the West?

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Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

Link received by email.

“There were 71 pregnancies per 1,000 U.S. girls aged 15-19. In 2006, 7 percent of all teenage girls got pregnant…”

Teen pregnancies are often quoted as an example of the degeneration of the US or the Western culture. Are teen pregnancies unheard of India?

I don’t think so. The difference is that most teen mothers in India have no choice or control over their pregnancy or their bodies. A lot of them are undernourished and are under pressure to give birth to male children.

“According to official figures, over 68% girls in the state (Rajasthan) are married by the age of 18.”  (And the Rajasthan government wants to register child marriages, making it tougher for the couple to get out of these marriages. They should be helping them make informed choices!).

A college friend’s mother once told us how she slept through her marriage ceremony, she was too young to stay awake. But she was not from Rajasthan, she was from Tamil Nadu.

My new maid says her 17 year old daughter in law has grown up to be taller than her son, they had not expected this when they married them in their mid-teens, but it doesn’t bother them, there are many such couples in their village, near Lucknow, in UP.

Another 25 year old domestic helper in Pune had three kids, 9, 7 and 5. She said was born the year Ms Gandhi died in 1984, so how old was she when her first child was born?

I have blogged about another domestic helper, married at 12, to a 20 year old unemployed man (Maharashtra). She supports three kids and an alcoholic, sick but violent husband. She asks her mother now, if she and sisters were really so much trouble that the mother had to get rid of them so cruelly.

Yet another one in Punjab was married as a kid to a much older, abusive man but she escaped, came back home and refused to go back.(I blogged about her, here)

Each of these women are unhappily married. They were pregnant in their teens. They live with verbal and physical abuse. Many of them are working more than they should, each of them is underweight (none more than 40 kgs) and most of them are earning.

Compare this to teenage pregnancies in the US. The girls are not necessarily married. They are unlikely to be forced to get married.

They can choose to have the baby or abort the baby – their health will be a huge consideration here, and a priority.

Despite the disapproval, they need not kill themselves to save their families’ honour.

They can continue to meet new men, maybe marry, maybe work, maybe live on their own, maybe live with their parents.

Their culture doesn’t like teenage pregnancies either, but it doesn’t abandon or ostracise one of the two responsible for these pregnancies.

So why do we think, are the teenage pregnancies in the west bad, and teenage pregnancies in our country fine?

Is this because these teen mothers are married? Does that really benefit the mother or the child? Perhaps the mother  has a father’s name to give to the child? (Can’t think how else it could be better for the mother or the child since they seem to have very little emotional or financial support). I would say the mother’s name is (and should be, specially in such cases) enough for the child. Mahabharat supports this. E.g.Kaunteya/ Kunti-Putra. Where ever the law doesn’t support the mothers, it should. Neena Gupta and Sushmita Sen are both single mothers and doing fine.

Secondly even if we ignore that most Indian teenage mothers are undernourished and miserable, what kind of life are these married (with parental approval) teenage mothers likely to give to their children? They have little  say in the children’s lives. I would say Juno made a much better and far more confident teenage mother.

And most importantly it’s the mother’s body and her choice. In India she has no rights over it. Just like she has no rights over anything else in her life. Or even a right to her own life.  How can a culture claim to respect women and mothers when it forces them to abandon helpless babies in garbage heaps simply because they are not married to the father!

Or else they can always take their own lives to prove their respect for a culture that doesn’t respect or value them.

Edited to add:

Link to this post was shared by ‘The Wall Street Journal’ here.

Link shared here, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/marie-staunton/mothers-day-a-30yearold-g_b_1353850.html

What would Taliban say to Juno?

This video can be very disturbing.

\”Please stop it,\” she begs, alternately whimpering or screaming in pain with each blow to the backside. \”Either kill me or stop it now.\”

A video showing a teenage girl being flogged by Taliban fighters has emerged from the Swat Valley in Pakistan… The two-minute video, shot using a mobile phone, shows a burka-clad woman face down on the ground. Two men hold her arms and feet while a third, a black-turbaned fighter with a flowing beard, whips her repeatedly.For being seen with a man.

The girl in the video is 17, same age as a girl studying in class XII. How old is that? Girls at 17 are giggling and gossiping about which boys they think are cute, and if the giggling is reciprocated maybe they go out. Sometimes without the parents’ knowledge. They might bunk school or college, maybe deceive the \’authorities\’ and ruin their future either by neglecting school work, or by getting into ‘serious trouble’, and since we do not live \’abroad\’ they cannot hope to have the baby and find her loving adoptive parents like Juno could.

(If you have not seen the movie yet, please do.)

There are chances of their being put in a situation where they take their own lives, because we believe that for girls there is no life after dishonour. Nothing happens to the boy.

Without getting into how wrong or how unacceptable it is for a girl to behave so immorally or irresponsibly, I wonder if WE have the moral right to have such control over another human life and body, for any reason, even for ‘ her own good’?

And then how is it good for her that she can be beaten in pubs, flogged in public, or offered the option of marrying her rapist.

How is it good for her that we have created a society where another rapist declared the victim ‘too used’ to marry his son.

We have made so much of a girl’s virginity and her reputation, that she will not be able to tell if the rapist is not a stranger, but her own father? Malayalidoc, a doctor in Kerala, wrote a post about incest leading to AIDS here. And we see how we have enough control over her life to decide if she is better dead.