My driver is having another baby. It’s his second child and due anytime. He told me the last delivery was normal and cost around 6000 rupees, which is very expensive for him and his family. So this time around, I tried to help him and asked my dear friend who works for the Punjab Government as a doctor to refer him to a gynecologist in Mayo Hospital. The process was still very complicated and the mother had not seen a doctor in any of her three trimesters, but it’s still better than what they experienced before.
I hope that they are able to avail the medical services provided by the government so that there is no added financial burden on them. I have been an advocate of a small family unit since I was a kid. But I know this for a fact that my opinion was not only disregarded but frowned upon.
With no regard to pre and post-natal care or the health of the unborn child, women have more children than they want mostly because they are pressurized or conditioned to think a certain way. With inflation rising, coupled with poor health and education facilities I am at a loss when struggling families have more than three children. I belong to a rural area and saw first-hand how ignored children suffer and how poor families have access to only one meal per day at times or nothing at all on others. Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated that children need good nourishment and live a more active and healthy life so that stunted growth can be kept in check. The average height of females and males in Pakistan has dropped inches mainly because malnutrition is rampant.
Then there is the pressure of producing a male child, which is determined by nature and the poor expectant mother has no control over. Women are forced to undergo termination of female embryos and some keep having daughters in the hope of finally producing a son. A son is a sign of economic prosperity and daughters a mere burden. The mindset has existed for hundreds of years and will continue to do so unless we change the thinking pattern ourselves. But there is hope, because as awareness is rising, families are letting their daughters educate and earn for themselves. Financial empowerment leads to social empowerment and can change the dynamics of generations to come. My only plea to all parents would be to provide basic education to their children regardless of their gender so that they live a better life.