About a month back, a man named Surendra Pratap Sau had made headlines. His claim to fame was his new-born child whom he had not taken home. No prize for guessing that the child is a girl child. For four months since the child was born, Sau refused to take back the mother and child home citing absurd reasons like “lack of time” etc. The hospital where his wife had been admitted had a policy that made it imperative for Sau to go and sign for the release of the mother and child. As he repeatedly avoided the issue, the hospital authorities and Sau’s in-laws had no choice but to keep the mother Neetu and her child in hospital. Neetu a cardiac patient suffered severe depression as a fallout of this event. Finally, after four months, Sau was handcuffed and taken to the hospital. He took his wife back home but did not spare as much as a glance towards the child who is currently with her maternal grandparents. Neetu’s condition deteriorated soon after being taken home and she had to be admitted to the Calcutta Medical College on the very same day. She passed away two days back. Sau when asked about the fate of his daughter refused to answer. Perhaps she is better of with he grandparents than with a father who cannot spare an ounce of love.

Discrimination against the girl-child has been a part of a larger part of the Indian society since time-immemorial and this is just another glowing example of it. Although the problem persistently remains in various parts of the country…both urban and rural, a growing trend among the population seems to have given this issue a completely opposite outlook. Common sense dictates that children irrespective of their gender, ought to be brought up with the same amount of love, care, opportunities and respect. Many Indian families are waking up to the fact and treating their children as such, but some are overdoing it. In their zeal to make the girls feel special they end up ignoring the boys. Often the boys are brought up with the idea that they more capable of handling themselves and are left alone while their sisters walk away with all the attention. The parents preach that since the girl is more fragile and would have to leave home one day she has to be given that extra bit of care and affection. What the parents are perhaps oblivious to, is that in their effort to beat stereotypes they are alienating the male-child in the process.

Perhaps this phenomenon is not as much prevalent as its gender-counterpart, but nonetheless harmful. What remains to be seen is whether these very same people would beat the other stereotype of honouring the son-in-law over the daughter-in-law.

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