Yesterday, I had a smile on my face, when I published this quote on my blog and people liked it so much. But, today, I was grieved when I read the news of a mother killing her infant baby with the same hands, which are supposed to caress and care for her. It is not the first time that I have read a mother killing her child (due to certain circumstances), but every time I read such a news, I wonder, is it true? Can this ever be true?
Well, the reality is always a harsh blow and yes, it is TRUE. A 23-year old mother in Bangalore, killed her 7-month old daughter (Chandana) under the impact of post-partum depression. She also had a 3-year old daughter. Initially, police thought that the cause of death is drowning in the water-sump, but after further investigation, it was clear that Shilpa (the accused) had killed her infant child and dumped her there.
Being a mother, it is quite shocking to see a mother stoop so low (under any circumstances) to kill her own child and as a human, it is shocking to know about the circumstances, which can lead to something like this.
On the face of it, the society is ready to blame the mother and condemn her acts, even curse her as a bad omen on womanhood, but I wonder, if it is entirely her fault. We need to know the other part of the story as well.
Since, her second child was also a girl and she was suffering from prenatal depression, for which she has been undergoing treatment since Chandana’s birth, her husband left her all alone amidst all this to face life on her own.
Will I be completely wrong in blaming her husband, her family and the society with its sick mentalities, at large for the crime, this frustrated, helpless mother committed? Was it entirely her fault?
A 23-year old, a mother of two, abandoned by her husband and a patient of postpartum psychosis – yes doesn’t qualify her for such a gruesome act, but could it have been avoided?
Our society is still suffering from diseased prejudices like non-acceptance of a girl child, raising a child is always a woman’s responsibility and much more. If she would have received the required support and care from her husband and her family, she could be coped with her depression much better. She could have come out of it much faster with their help. But, nobody was ready to help her because her crime was giving birth to a second girl child. Our mentality is more guilty than her, which kept pushing her more into the dungeons of depression, when all she needed was love and care of her loved ones.
As a mother, I will not deny that even I had fluctuating stress levels after my daughter was born. I guess, every woman goes through a phase of postnatal mental state, but 2 in 1000 cases are as acute as this. I agree, that her depression was something, which she needed to control and it resulted in the crime, but the source of the depression, cannot be ignored, altogether.
Women across the world suffer from Post Natal Depression. According to a recent research article, Postnatal depression (PND) is one of the most common psychopathology and is considered as a serious public health issue because of its devastating effects on mother, family, and infant or the child. According to the study, the risk of PND among rural postnatal women was high (31.4%). Birth of a female baby, poverty and complications in pregnancy or known medical illness could predict the high risk of PND. Though this data pertains to rural women, but this is quite common among the urban population too.
I agree, her action is not justified at all. Many of us go through similar condition, but we do not take such drastic steps. But, all of us are ‘mentally’ different. She might not be mentally strong like others and she probably needed help. She could have avoided this under different circumstances.
Are we doing anything about it?
Well, handling postpartum depression is an integral part of postnatal care. However, most of the women and their families are quite unaware or ill-informed about it. It is perceived that right after the birth, a mother is supposed to handle all responsibilities of a child and her mental state is often neglected. Though, becoming a mother is the source of immense happiness, sometimes, it can lead to such mental state due to a lot of mental and physical changes. If neglected, it can have severe consequences like this.
There are various institutes and support groups, which helps new mothers to get over this kind of depression, but I guess, most of the women do not have access to them or they don’t know about them. A woman’s personal, social lives and most importantly, her relationship with her newborn worsens, if she chooses to suffer in silence.
It is time NOT TO IGNORE such conditions and seek proper help in time. Coming to the prejudices of the society, I am not sure, if we can ever get over them.
The beautiful relationship between a mother and her child starts with happiness and proper support from husband and family members can alleviate any traces of depression, which might seem to arise.
A new mother needs her family as much she needs her child and most importantly, her husband, by her side. Shilpa chose to kill a life, but WE have probably killed Shilpa long back by not supporting her. Her elder daughter lost everything in life, what was her fault? Guess, being a woman was at fault for all of them.