Pregnancy and motherhood are often given the highest regard in our society, and rightly so. In fact, pregnant women are treated with the utmost care and respect wherever they go. However, this very pregnancy can sometimes become a cause of shame for a pregnant woman due to the stigma attached to teen pregnancies or those that happen out of the wedlock. Yet, such situations do arise and we hear about it time and again. This can happen if a woman or an innocent teenager has been falsely lured into it or becomes a victim of sexual exploitation. And the lack of awareness and education about this so-called taboo subject also makes it worse for gullible young women, resulting in them bearing the brunt of it, sometimes with tragic outcomes.
One such case came to light recently in the city of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. A heavily pregnant young woman, believed to be all of 26 years old and a native of Bahraich, landed in Gorakhpur looking for an accommodation. She eventually rented accommodation at the city’s Bilandpur area. Quite naturally, seeing her condition, her landlord was concerned. But she reassured him that her mother would soon join her to assist in her delivery. Four days later, on a Monday morning, her neighbors noticed blood seeping out through her door. Alarmed, the neighbors immediately informed the landlord about it who broke open the door. The sight that awaited there shocked everyone.
There, in front of them, the woman was lying in a pool of blood along with her newborn son. And tragically, both were dead. The landlord then contacted the police who soon arrived and sent the bodies for autopsy. There was a blade, a scissor, and some thread at the scene of the tragedy. The police also retrieved the deceased woman’s cellphone. After browsing through her phone, they found that she had been searching and viewing videos on YouTube about ‘how to deliver a baby by self’. It was now clear that the woman might have gone into labor and tried to deliver the baby all by herself. However, there were still some unanswered questions: why didn’t she raise an alarm or seek help when she went into labor? Where was her mother who was supposed to join her?
The woman’s family was contacted in the meantime. After the family arrived, the police learned another shocking truth: the deceased woman was unmarried. However, the family refused to divulge any further information regarding her. Not only that, they even refused to lodge an FIR against anyone.
This sad incident has brought to light the kind of social stigmas women face and lack of family support to them in such situations. Often, families abandon their daughters in these precarious conditions due to the fear of being shamed in society. It is still unknown how the woman became pregnant in the first place. But, had her family extended her a helping hand, she and her child would have probably been alive. There are a number of NGOs in our country who could have come to the assistance of the young woman and helped her eke out a living in an honorable manner. Thereby, giving her the courage to live a life of dignity.
This incident is also an eye-opener for society at large. Why blame the woman when she gets pregnant out of wedlock? Why are questions always raised about the nature of her character while the man who is equally involved goes scot-free? It is high time we stopped judging any woman based on her sexual preferences. In today’s age, with women like Nina Gupta breaking new grounds (not that it was easy for her), its time we set aside such petty mindsets. Let us, instead, extend a helping hand to those in need of it. Because married or not, a mother is eventually a mother!
May the young mother’s soul rest in peace. Amen.