Delhi: An Indian doctor’s decision to alter society’s negative attitude towards girls by delivering baby girls free of charge is inspiring other doctors.
Since Dr Ganesh Rakh started his free deliveries seven years ago, his example has prompted thousands of other doctors to pledge that they too will either deliver baby girls gratis or offer a heavy discount to the parents.
(Indian Dr Ganesh Rakh delivers baby girls for free to ensure they are celebrated and welcomed in a society where traditionally male children are preferred. Photo: Supplied)
It was one particularly upsetting bedside scene in his obstetrics ward that prompted Dr Rakh to take the step. A young woman had given birth to a baby girl and her parents were by her bedside, enjoying the moment. Her husband walked in and, on hearing it was a girl, fell into a rage.
“He gave her a big slap, abused her parents and told them to take her home to their house. He was wild. He said he was going to leave her and marry a woman who could give him a son,” Dr Rakh said.
The more “routine” version of this scene used to play out every day in his small hospital in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra. The husband and his relatives used to start crying and getting upset, showing their displeasure to the mother, and becoming livid when confronted with the bill.
Dr Rakh was so dismayed by the disparity between this welcome and the euphoria surrounding the birth of a boy – smiling faces, tips for the nurses, sweets distributed around the ward and a jaunty paying of the bill – that he decided to forfeit the fee of around 15,000-25,000 rupees ($300-$504) for a delivery.
It was decision he took to make his contribution to changing attitudes towards girls. Apart from not charging any fee, he celebrates the birth of every girl. The staff all gather around the bed with a cake, candles and roses to make the mother feel special and to shame the scowling relatives into behaving. More than 400 girls have been delivered without the parents being charged a fee.