It saddens the heart to know that as I'm typing this piece, there is a girl child somewhere out there, either being brutally mutilated or raped. Female foeticide/ infanticide is just as big a cause for concern, if not bigger.
In a nation like India, having a girl child is more of a curse than a blessing, or so a fair section of society still continues to believe. From the time a baby is conceived, the parents want to know the gender of the as yet unborn baby. No, not from the point of view of decorating the nursery just so, or buying the layette, but in the event that if it's 'unfortunately' a girl, suitable measures can be employed to 'take care of the situation'.
In certain sections of society, a girl child only means another mouth to feed, since she is apparently fit to look after only the home and hearth. While the menfolk go out and earn (read: squander most of their earnings in their dedication to the booze bottle, but that's another story), it's the female who has to take care of the house and family. In such a situation, sometimes created out of hopelessness and frustration, brutal atrocities are committed against the girl child, more often than not by a member of the family itself, a father, brother or husband even. This, sometimes, with the helpless mother watching on.
There are cities and small towns wherein during an ultrasound scan, the presence of a female foetus means that 'a Goddess is about to visit the family', which is a not so subtle cue for the parents-to-be to start thinking about an abortion. Or, 'congratulations, get the hospital staff 'pedas' (a type of sweetmeat), since burfee, another variety of sweet, denotes a male foetus. Depending on the sweet one draws, the fate of the unborn child is sealed right there and then. Multiple instances of aborted foetuses found in garbage bins, abandoned day-old baby girls, umbilical cord intact, are found in heaps of garbage, often not garbed even in rags, or floating along a river - these stories are as commonplace as they are horrifying.
On one hand, there are programmes talking about small families being happy families, while on the other, such gruesome horrors are conveniently shoved under the carpet, or in this case, the garbage heap.
Wonder if anyone's actually listening.