This evening I received an email update from Dreamcatchers For Abused Children about the death an Indian baby girl named Falak who survived two cardiac arrests and a meningitis infection contracted during treatment. She was admitted to the hospital covered in human bite marks. The Doctors in Delhi said the battered two-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack. This was tragic news for many who were rooting for the toddler, especially as she showed signs of improvement after being taken off life support and taken out of intensive care before her sudden death.
Neurosurgeon Dr Deepak Aggarwal said: ‘The reasons that triggered the cardiac arrest are still not known. An autopsy will be conducted on Friday and that may throw some light.’ He told the Economic Times: ‘The atmosphere is very grim in the hospital because all the staff was emotionally attached to her.’
Police are investigating the crime and 13 arrests were made, including that of Raj Kumar, the man accused of leaving Baby Falak with his 14-year-old girlfriend. Raj is the child’s foster father. Her mother is believed to be a 22 year old woman who allegedly abandoned Falak at the home of a woman named as Lakshmi, a resident of Uttam Nagar.
My heart aches when I think of what this precious child went through at the hands of people who should have cared for her. When she was taken to the hospital, she was suffering from horrendous injuries such broken arms and a smashed skull. And bite marks. How could anyone bite another person, especially a child?
I have read what happens to baby girls in India. They are aborted, abandoned and regarded as a burden on their families because of the dowry their parents would have to pay when they are older. And according to The Times of India, India is the most dangerous place in the world to be a baby girl. Newly released data shows that an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world. In India, girl babies face ‘pre-meditated’ murder under femicide.
Femicide was redefined as a feminist term by Diana Russell in 1976 to refer to misogynist murders. Just as murders targeting African Americans differentiate between those that are racist and those that are not, so are murders targeting women differentiated into those that are femicides and those that are not. When the gender of the victim is immaterial to the perpetrator, the murder qualifies as a non-femicidal crime.
After making minor changes in her definition over the years, Russell redefined femicide as “the killing of females by males because they are female” Misogynist murders are the most obvious examples of femicide. These include mutilation murder, rape murder, woman battery that escalates into wife killing, the immolation of widows in India, and “honor crimes” in Latin and Middle Eastern countries, where women who are believed to have shamed their families by associating with an unrelated male, or even by being raped by a brother, are often murdered by their male relatives.
In India son preference is very common. I read there is celebration when a woman has a boy but when she has a girl, it’s a completely different reaction. I just read another heartbreaking story about a little girl named Karishma. When she was born, her paternal grandmother was incensed, “A girl! I am going to put salt in her mouth and kill her!” Apparently each rural region of India has its own age-old method of female infanticide. In the West there isdoodh-peeti (Drinking milk), where the baby is drowned in a bucket of milk. In the East, as in Bengal, where Karishma is from, salt is put into the baby’s mouth and it’s closed for a minute. Karishma suffered physical abuse at the hands of her grandmother and she almost died from malnutrition. Read about her story here.
What kind of society do we live in where a baby girl is bitten and battered and a father would throw his new born off a train within 12 hours of her birth and a grandmother would teach her grandson how to strangle his sister, promising him, “If you kill your sister, you will be even more loved by us”? And why isn’t more being done to stop this?
I wrote a post a while ago on A Celebration of Women about the atrocities committed against helpless baby girls like Falak and I am sad to see that nothing has really changed. India is still the most dangerous place for a girl and the mortality rate for girls is alarmingly high. I am hoping that the death of Falak will galvanize people into taking action. Someone has to stand up and say enough is enough! Girl infants should be allowed to have a future because they matter. Girls can be assets and blessings to their families. The dowry system needs to be abolished because it is the main reason why girls are killed. Criminal charges ought to be brought against any family member or members who commit femicide or abuse their girl children.
I would like human rights’ organization start a petition to end the crimes committed against girl infants and sent it to India’s President Pratibha Patil. She needs to step in and do something. I would like to see governments around the world take action. I don’t want to see more babies end up like Falak.
Let us tell President Patil and anyone who would listen that girls matter and that they deserve a future. Falak deserved a future.
Sources: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115877/Death-Falak-Indian-baby-handed-hospital-covered-HUMAN-BITE-MARKS.html; http://womennewsnetwork.net/2012/02/07/india-girl-infants-murder-femicide/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femicide