Today, 11th May is Mother’s Day. It is almost absurdly romantic that a country like Pakistan would celebrate a day like to honor mothers!
The day has not much to it other then romance and advertisement (Good day for milk and baby care products, plus some phone companies taking ring tone requests).
Let’s throw some light on what mother’s are going through in Pakistan (other then providing Paradise to their children from under their feet.)
Pakistan has one of the highest infant mortality rates. It is the only country in the region with a doubling population growth rate and one of the highest maternity death rates on Earth.
By simply walking through the Mayo Hospital Maternity ward, one can understand how good the conditions are there and the standard of healthcare. And these are the lucky ones who made it to a literate doctor, otherwise an illiterate midwife or perhaps some aunt and cousin was all she would have.
There are three major flaws in the health-care of Pakistan that spell havoc for all mothers!
Firstly, millions of mothers have died during child birth till date because of the lack of trained personnel’s, medicines and poverty.
Secondly, many of these deaths would be prevented if birth control was readily available, which is not till date in Pakistan. Too many births at short intervals weaken the mothers, add financial and psychological pressure and increase the workload. The chances of miscarriages and abortions increase too- further adding psychological pressure and trauma on the mother.
Thirdly, infant mortality rates of Pakistan are the second tallest in the World. What does it mean? Millions of traumatized mothers left to mourn their toddlers and getting pregnant again and again.
How can we over-look the age-factor? The teenagers that we so lovingly marry off, are they capable enough to be good mothers? Are they emotionally stable enough? Do they understand the burden they are about to be blessed with? Do they know a bit about birth control, family planning and childcare? How many kids do they want and when? Can they afford them all?
Just two days back I came to know that my classmate’s fairy tale marriage had collapsed. The husband was schizophrenic. And the child my friend had was forcefully given away by her parents to her husband because the parents feared she will not get remarried and they would be dragged in courts every now and then because the in-laws will claim custody every now and then till the child reaches 18. Yes, even a schizophrenic father has more claims to the child than the mother itself.
When will these laws change? When will the mother who bears the child have the ultimate right over its custody?
When will the fathers pay equal contributions in the brought up of the child? For how long will be used as a child be a woman’s weakness in a marriage?
At the moment it seems that the problems of the lower and middle class, less educated women start when they have children. Firstly the standard of living decreases as the child bring immense financial burden. Plus, the first child actually means the long train of child-births has started- a vicious cycle of pregnancy, illness, physical and psychological strain, where there is no scope of personal care, education and perhaps even love in the household.
Thirdly there is this pressure to produce a male offspring on the mother. The female child actually reduces her worth as a wife and increases risk of loosing her husband to another woman.
And in the above scenario, there is of course no scope of her having time and energy for herself- in the process of mothering, the mother tends to be over-looked even by her.
Ten years back we saw our servant girl married off. A year later she returned with a son. She told me she will have just have one more child, and educate them both. Last week, she returned to us to ask for a job for her eldest, bear footed, uneducated son who was caught smoking last night.
No more a girl, a sick and sagging mother of five (who are all on streets) but still a servant because her husband is a drug addict and has left her since two years. Her eyes had no dreams or hopes, just the need for a job for her son. To bring up five children in extreme poverty without a husband- is this all she came on Earth for?
The children she will now raise, can scarcely find food, shelter and disease-ridden water- Jannat is all they can vouch for now.
A very contented Mother’s Day to all the mothers in this country. Those who lost their child to diarrhea before it could utter a word, who saw it disabled by polio, those whose little ones came out lifeless and those who lost it before it took a human form.. Those who bring their children behind bars and those who give them away to stranger because they are behind bars. Those who know the miracles of schooling but seize to afford it for their little ones.
Those who are brave enough to leave their torturous husband at the cost of their children. Those who silently give them away to orphanages because this World requires them to do so. Those who realize their children should play but send them to work in the Sun. And those who brought their children during war. Those whose daughters are sold away. Those whose children never return. Those who desired a better life for their child but couldn’t offer it. Above all to those who have nowhere to seek justice but from God.
This piece was first published on Chowk.com.