Reshma Banu, mother of three-month-old Afreen who is battling for life after an alleged attempted infanticide by her father, was produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) on Monday and her statements recorded.
CWC Chairperson Meena Jain said Ms. Banu would be provided a lawyer from the State Legal Services Authority to support the Public Prosecutor in pursuing the case. “We are also trying to find the first wife of the accused to take her statement,” she said.
The case of baby Afreen being battered by her father, Umar Farook, which led to her suffering violent convulsions and haemorrhage, was brought to light after Gangadhar Belvadi, Professor and Head of Department of Paediatrics of Vani Vilas Hospital, brought it to the CWC's notice.
Ms. Jain said Ms. Banu's story was heart-rending, with no one, including her in-laws, coming to her aid when she first realised that her baby was being tortured by the father with an intent to kill. “She was told that as the father, he has a right to do what he likes,” said Ms. Jain.
The CWC wants to take it up as a larger campaign spreading the message of “zero tolerance” towards violence towards children. “There is no dearth of laws to protect women and children, but the problem is with enforcement,” she said.
Commissions to act
The Karnataka State Commission for Child Rights, Karnataka State Minorities Commission and Karnataka State Women's Commission are holding a joint meeting on April 12 to work out a mechanism to reach timely help to women in distress like Ms. Banu. “Maybe one can identify vulnerable areas where there can be crisis intervention centres,” said KCPCR Chairperson Nina P. Nayak.
Minorities Commission Chairperson Anwar Manippady said he had sought information from the hospitals on women who come to them in distress. “Wakf Board is also duty-bound to help women like Ms. Banu,” he said.