Give birth to girl child and win gold in this Kerala town
In the recently-released global gender gap index, India was ranked 108 behind neighbouring Bangladesh.india Updated: Nov 03, 2017 16:23 IST
In Kottakkal municipality of Kerala’s Muslim-dominated Malappuram district, girls bring joy as well as gold for their family.
For their municipal councillor, Abdul Raheem has a unique way of celebrating the birth of a girl child in his ward. The independent councillor has been gifting a gold coin weighing one gram to mothers, who give birth to a girl, for the last two years.
“I have seen people cursing the birth of girls. ‘No, not again’ is the common refrain in many families. But most of them are not aware they are the real wealth. Can we imagine a world without them?” the father of a four-year-old daughter asked.
“In all religions and scriptures, girls find a prime place. But in real life, the situation is quite different. Even in birth, they face severe discrimination and neglect. Our attitude should be changed,” he said.
In the recently-released global gender gap index, India was ranked 108 behind neighbouring Bangladesh. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index said India slipped 21 places from the earlier 87th rank.
British medical journal the Lancet published a study in 2011 in which it said that as many as 12 million Indian girls may have been selectively aborted between 1980 and 2010.
Experts say this trend, in a deeply patriarchal society where girls are often seen as a financial liability, has led to a rise in crimes including rape, trafficking and the emergence of “wife-sharing” in villages where the sex ratio is low.
Kerala has a healthy sex ratio of 1084 females for 1000 males. But social scientists have warned that the ever-declining birth-rate in the state would affect its healthy sex ratio in coming years.
Sixteen mothers have received his gift so far and Raheem is now planning to double the weight of the coin. There are instances of parents calling him from the hospital bed to announce the arrival of their daughter and he wastes no time in felicitating them.
Many leading jewellers in Kottakkal approached Raheem with offers to sponsor the gift after they got to know about this initiative. But he declined because the 38-year-old said he not doing this for any publicity and he has no plan to commercialise it either.
“As a councillor, I get a sitting allowance between Rs 8000 to 10,000 a month. One gram coin costs only Rs 2500. I can afford to spare my salary for this,” he said adding he joined politics not to make money but to serve people.
Raheem, who belongs to a business-owning family that owns pharmaceutical and ayurvedic companies, said he is now planning a mega function to honour these mothers.
“Such initiatives will help remove barriers in the society,” Jaseena Rehman, who was the first mother to get the coin two years ago, said.