Once my lover asked me what I wanted our first child to be after our marriage. I replied without hesitation, I want a baby girl. I had many reasons for my preference. For instance, a daughter is the queen of a family and brings with her utmost happiness. She can be the conduit for strong bonding between the family members. Moreover, the relationship between a dad and his daughter is heavenly, beyond any other relationship to me.
To reinforce and justify my preference for a daughter, I said that a girl is more caring, lovely, cooperative, honest, and more dedicated to her parents compared to a boy. After sharing all of this, the expression on her face told me she was happy, but not overwhelmed with my deep feelings for a baby girl who is yet to come, possibly still a long way off. I am close enough to my future life partner to be able to read her mind and feelings and I instantly realised that she has different choice. Still, I asked her what she wanted as our first child, and as I expected, she replied, ‘a baby boy’.
Such romantic conversations and dreams of building a happy family are nothing new for boyfriends and girlfriends, but the logic my lover gave me about her preference for a baby boy, caught my attention. It jerked my mind and made me to think deeply, differently. She said, ‘I don’t want to see my daughter suffer in society.’ This one significant sentence implied many things. Most importantly, it revealed a future mother’s concern about giving birth a to a baby girl who is a ‘shame’ for the society, a society that has made girls vulnerable, where the fragile security system does not allow a girl to grow fearlessly.
My partner slammed the oblivious patriarch society that is ruining the freedom of hundreds of thousands of girls, preventing them from embracing the the wide vistas of this mesmerizing world. We are the so called ‘men’ of whom our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends and colleagues are scared. We are the wild beast of who threaten their freedom, causing them to worry for their bodies, all too often violated at home or outside. We are the so-called other half of women, and it is because of us a future mother is afraid to give birth to a baby girl.
In these social circumstances, she has every reason to be afraid of having a daughter. She has been observing the atrocities against women throughout the world, or she herself has been facing the perpetrators since she was born. She is frightened that our daughter might face the same discrimination like most of the girls in our society. Our daughter might be assaulted or traumatized in every phase of her life whether at home by relatives, on the road by stalkers, in transport by passengers, drivers and their helpers, or in the workplace by colleagues.
Will it be possible for us as parents to watch and endure as our beloved daughter, the queen of family, our most beloved angel, who longs to fly freely like a bird, falls prey to a vulture’s lust? Will our daughter be safe while we read the reports in media that even a three-month or a three-year-old girl is assaulted?
As a journalist, perhaps I am not supposed to be overly emotional or break down into tears when reading such stories of rape victims in different parts of the world, especially in Bangladesh over the last couple of years, as I continuously report on corruption, killing, accidents, drug dealing and incidents involving criminals and police. However, when I read that three-year-old baby girl Tanha was raped in Dhaka by her neighbor whom she called ‘uncle’, my heart bled. I wanted to cry out, shaking the world, but the sound echoed within my heart.
When I read that a teenage girl was gang raped by political hooligans who later tortured the girl and her mother and shaved their heads in a village of Bogra in our country, I was ashamed to be a man, to even exist in this society. When I read that a young woman Rupa was gang raped in a running bus while returning home after taking a test for a teaching post, I was shocked and speechless.
When I heard that in Pakistan a girl was raped and, in vengeance, her brother raped another girl, I was thunderstruck to hear the insanity. A few years ago when I read the story of Nirvaya in India, I was traumatized. I always feel capable of protecting my family from any vicious acts as by the grace of almighty Allah, as I have the physical, mental and socio-economic strength, but the question always arises in my mind, is this strength enough to allow my baby girl to grow up safely in this society?
Instead of being pessimistic, I believe that the sacrifice of these victimised girls cannot go in vain. Their long sufferings will usher in a new dimension for the next generation girls to step up, to change the social scene and to enlighten the world with their beautiful minds. Despite all these facts, I still want a baby girl, not just to dazzle my family, but also to illuminate the world with her uncompromising strength, to raise the voice of thousands of oppressed girls. Later, she will not be scared to give birth to a baby girl.
The writer is a journalist and can be found on Facebook at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>