29 Dec 2010

Social ethos responsible for female foeticide: High Court

Ruefully noting the plight of the a new-born girl child in India which is strangulated after taking the first breath itself, the Delhi High Court in a recent decision (Manju v. State) has in no uncertain terms criticized the society-strata for having built a structure where the girl child is killed for no fault of its. Being of the view that an illiterate mother, who had been married at the early age of 15 years, should not be along held accountable for the murder of the girl child but it was the entire society which was responsible for such a scenario, the High Court grim-fully noted the state-of-affairs prevailing in the country.

A Division Bench of Justice PRADEEP NANDRAJOG and Justice SURESH KAIT noted the social contours in which a girl child in born in India in the following terms;
1. She was a baby girl and her arrival was a calamity. She was a baby girl and was a source of anxiety to her parents, for in her, they saw a difficult problem of her marriage. She became their compulsion. The very thought of her marriage was enough to ruin them. She was a poor little thing and the blocking of a puff of wind was enough to put her out.
2. The society had scripted her obituary much before she was born. Her mother only published it.
3. This is the story of the unnamed infant; probably this is the first decision which cannot even refer to the victim by her name. She had none!
4. We do not know whether any spirituality transcends human life, for what happens after death, we know not. But it is recognized and accepted that human personality transcends human life. For her, even this was denied.
5. Her brief existence in the world was reduced to a piece of mere statistics – A number stood added to the population of the world. – A number stood added to the female population of the world. – A number stood subtracted from the population of the world. – A number stood subtracted from the female population of the world. – The male female ratio got further imbalanced in India i.e. Bharat. – A credit entry was made in the Register of Births. – A debit entry was made in the Register of Deaths. – A smile was lost forever.
6. The moral regression of the people of India i.e. Bharat has not been crippled by the penal laws. The policy of persuasion has failed.
7. But, should the appellant who is not the architect of the crime which has been created by society i.e. female infanticide, having acted as a pawn, be made to pay for the sins of the society. She is an ignorant lady, living in a wretched condition below the poverty line. That she has affixed her left thumb impression on her statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. is proof of her illiteracy. That she lives below the poverty line is evidenced by her address which happens to be a slum area. That she is barely able to keep intact her soul and body is proved by the fact that her husband is a daily wager.
8. A reactive process is itself an injudicious and one sided process, heavily loaded against the ignorant and the weak.
22. We quote three stanzas from the poem "Prayer Before Birth" by LOUIS MACNEICE:-
“I am not yet born, console me
I fear that the human race may with tall walls
wall me,
with strong drugs dope me,
with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me,
in blood baths roll me.
x x x
I am not yet born; forgive me
for the sins that in the world shall commit,
my words when they speak me,
my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my hands,
my death when they live me.
x x x
I am not yet born; rehearse me
in the parts I must play and the cues
I must take when old men lecture me,
bureaucrats hector me,
mountains frown at me,
lovers laugh at me,
the white waves call me to folly,
and the desert calls me to doom,
and the beggar refuses my gift,
and my children curse me.”
23. The dramatic monologue with the speaker being the unborn child brings out the concern of the unborn child as to how he would face modern humanity and asks of God or humanity to spare him terrors of modern society as are personified by blood sucking bats, stoat and club footed ghoul. There are other fears. There are barriers, drugs, lies, torture and violence. The unborn child wants to be comforted. The earth is deteriorating and the unborn child requests God to provide him these for him to grow physically, intellectually and emotionally healthy. The unborn child realizes that the modern society is losing its identity and sins are ingrained in a person from society, crime is put in him or her by society. Since the child will be a part of this world he is likely to commit sins, speak what he is taught, think the way he is trained and hence seeks forgiveness.
24. The plight of the appellant is akin to that of the unborn child.
25. No reasonable and rational person would countenance female infanticide. It is not only a penal offence but is a sin against God. The greatest gift of God to mankind is the gift of life. Children are life born not to their parents but through their parents. The problem in India is acute with contempt for the female child writ large on the spectrum of the society. Its proof is the dismal adverse male:female sex ratio where the biologically stronger sex i.e. the female sex is in the minority. 60 years of independence and so-called modernization has not changed the societal attitude towards the female child. Across the board; rural or urban, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, the skewed sex ratio adverse to the female child is a sad mirror image of the social thinking even in the 21st Century.
26. The reason is dowry at the time of marriage of the girl child. The result is the female child being looked upon and treated as a liability and a son being treated as an asset. The society forgets that a son is a son till he gets married but a daughter is a daughter all her life.
27. We wonder why India i.e. Bharat, in spite of all its talent is unable to march with the community of nations, with the head held high. Probably for the reason we treat 50% of the fellow citizens i.e. our sisters as inferior and junior partners in the march ahead without realizing that in the onward march if your fellow companion is made to lag behind, even your progress is slowed.
28. The medical papers pertaining to the appellant show that her parents married her of at the tender and immature age of 15 years. At this immature age, what role could the appellant play for herself as a housewife and a mother, except what was dictated to her and commanded upon her.
29. No doubt, by the time she became a mother, she had attained the age of majority, but that would be as per law. Whether at all can it be said that under the circumstances she was mature enough to not only think for herself but fight the social environment around her? We think not.
30. The crime against the female child is a product of the perverse social norms and the perverse social thinking and the appellant who is not only illiterate, is not only poor, lives in a slum and was married at the tender age of 15 years cannot be attributed the role of scripting the crime. She is a mere puppet with the strings being pulled by the men who lecture her. The turbulent waves of social thinking have called her to folly and the desert has called her to doom.

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