Opinion » Open Page

Updated: June 14, 2012 10:12 IST

Oh Afreen, we grieve for you

S. V. Venugopalan
Comment (8)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Reshma Bano, mother of three-month-old Afreen,
is inconsolable after the baby girl died due to cardiac arrest in Bangalore
last month. The baby had been badly battered by her father because he
wanted a boy. File Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.
Reshma Bano, mother of three-month-old Afreen, is inconsolable after the baby girl died due to cardiac arrest in Bangalore last month. The baby had been badly battered by her father because he wanted a boy. File Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

Oh, Afreen, the tender child! I start trembling the moment I think of the trauma you underwent when that gruesome, mindless and inhuman attack was launched on you by none other than your own father! And for what, for being born as a girl and not as a boy! For whose fault, certainly not yours! And not even your mother's! Oh Afreen, the most unfortunate kid to be sent off the world in the most ungrateful manner, would anyone pardon us, the co-inhabitants of this earth for haplessly witnessing that inconsolable cries of Reshma, your dear mother?

We hang our heads in shame, Afreen, for daring to declare our society a modern one even as the worst manifestations of gender discrimination pass off unquestioned every other moment. But you should know that even modern scientific inventions have become subservient to the feudal dictates and scan centres forewarn the vested interests to forestall the birth of Afreens.

When that fails, even cruder reception awaits them at their birth. If they are lucky enough to cross that barrier, at every stage of their growth, ruthless demarcation would invariably be set in their upbringing. In dress, food, play, studies, matrimonial choice and in every other thing, it would be reiterated dismissively that you are a girl, and not a boy!

Oh, Afreen, you are one more victim in a row of innumerable girlchildren whose lives were so prematurely terminated by vengeful fathers. You never knew you had an enemy with whom you had no rivalry. Your enemy settled scores with you, whereas you had not acted against him anyway. It occurred little to your enemy that you were not his equal and you could never ever overpower him, but he proceeded against you so violently taking no chances. And this unwarranted and arrogant act of his was not between him and you alone any longer! He intended it to be his hate reply to his wife for giving birth to you. But this is to be read as a message to society as well. This exercise was his signal message of guidance to similarly placed menfolk and one of intimidation to the womenfolk placed similar to Reshma, your dear mother.

It is here, Afreen, that this unpardonable act deserves to be challenged head-on. Such a rank pervert approach to the gift of nature runs counter to the basic spirit of very human life on earth. This betrays a lack of scientific understanding of who, between the partners in a relationship, causes it to be a girl, in the first place. But why discuss the chromosome principle here which may take it for granted that the birth of a girl child is a curse. Graceful people welcome with open arms every new entrant into the universe, irrespective of colour, creed, gender, caste, etc.

Oh, Afreen, at every punch you suffered, every beating you took and every cruel handling that you were subjected to at the hands of your father that fateful day, every one of the cherished dreams of Reshma, your dear mother, must have got shattered. Going back to her pregnant days, the poor lady must have enjoyed even her physical sufferings at the very thought of a cute young one taking shape inside her womb. She breathed, ate, drank, slept and did every normal routine in your thoughts. She may have had her imagination of your looks. She may have even planned your name, either way. She may have coined your pet names, even, dear Afreen! Where would she shed her dreams, now? How could she dispose of her imaginations, now? When, at all, could she be freed of all that she had imagined about you, Afreen!

Oh, Afreen, as we stand silently in your memory, we make a vow to do every bit to cry a halt to this barbaric male preference in society. We vow to make this society truly gender-equitable. We vow to express ourselves categorically on all fora to call it a day for female foeticide and killing of female infants! We vow to impart a scientific temper to the future generations and enable them to have a progressive attitude as their lifestyle. We vow to voice for extraordinary and deterrent punishment to those who indulge in preventing the birth of or in killing of girl children.

But Afreen, the visual of your mother's uncontrollable wailing at your passing away would sure render our nights sleepless for some more time to come. This, we do deserve for that unforgivable occurrence.

(The writer's email is


Does abortion law abet female foeticide?May 27, 2012

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@Abdul Kader : //And come up with Islamic weddings where the groom needs to give good wealth (Mahar)to marry a girl//

Girl giving dowry is bad (yes, correct ) but boy giving mahar is the solution ? Where is the logic in this ? Please do not push religion specific beliefs on others blindly ?

from:  Arun Subbu
Posted on: Jun 1, 2012 at 01:51 IST

Our country needs to be more stringent about the implementation of the
abortion laws. The question of dowry comes in much later. We boast about
our economic progress and development when we have failed to grant the
basic right to life to many little girls like afreen in our country.
This is sad,something we all are ashamed of.

from:  Pooja
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 10:45 IST

No matter what the root cause is, I think such devilish acts should not be tolerated. These are scums of the earth, and the sooner they are eliminated the better for societal peace and it will also be a lesson for potential evil-doers. Hope the law doesnt make a mockery out of little Afreens death by keeping the man alive and protected on state money similar to the terrorist Kasab, whose acts were witnessed by the entire nation, but still is alive in the name of justice. Pity that none can understand the delay in such clear cases, except our esteemed law enforcers!!!

from:  Zafar mahmood
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 10:40 IST

We should attack the root cause of this problem (which is Dowry and other customs to be done by girls family after the marriage)

We should abstrain from attending any marriages which have any form of dowry. And come up with Islamic weddings where the groom needs to give good wealth (Mahar)to marry a girl.
Also in India we waste a lot of money on marriage functions by the name of custom. As per Prophet Mohamed(SAS) the most blessful marriage is the marraige which is done on least spenings.
Many middle calss and upper class people make the wedding ceremony as an occation to show off their wealth. This indeed makes the poor people also to spend more on marriage (even by borrowing from others)
Total revamp need in the Indain marriage system.

from:  Abdul kader
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 14:40 IST

And when the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) shall be questioned. For what sin she was killed?
Holy Quran (81:8-9)

from:  Athar Hashmi
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 04:14 IST

Very sorrowful plight of Indian women brought out with great grit and courage. The gender discrimination has been deeply rooted in this society. This article gives a clarion call for all to wake up and fight against any form of gender discrimination, be it female foeticide, infanticide, child marriages or the dowry system. Women are oppressed at every sphere of her life. Even Afreen's mother cannot voice or cry out her anguish. This sorrowful state of demeaning a women just because she belongs to the other gender should be shunned.

from:  ARUN.J
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 21:48 IST

Completely agree with the author.Even animals do not display this kind of barbarism. Read somewhere,"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society".How careless can we become?How many more of such incidents are required for our conscience to wake?I know we cannot do a lot sitting far away,but the question is,how much are we prepared to do if these things happen in our near vicinity?As rightly mentioned by the author,our girls/women are faced with challenges at every step of their life.The height is today even the brothels are being justified by some 'sane' people,saying those are required if your own womenfolk is to be secure or something like it is a good thing for bachelors who cannot afford marriage or are far from their family!What are these people thinking?How callous can they get?Change is required in attitude for everyone.Serve and Protect is not a mantra only for police,but every individual should take care of others.Only then will sanity prevail.

from:  Zafar mahmood
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 12:36 IST

Very thought provoking write up that will open up the gender bias still prevelant in the society and country of this era.. Too words to express the trauma faced by the mother..

from:  Hashmath
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 10:32 IST
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