Kajal had already failed her husband twice. Each time she gave birth to a daughter, her husband and her mother-in-law believed she had given birth to a burden. With each daughter came the need for a dowry, exorbitant amounts of money that they would never be able to afford. Their home was falling apart, leaving them cold and exposed in the winter. Another daughter was simply another expense.
Threats and fear
When Kajal discovered she was pregnant again, she knew another daughter could be the end. Her mother-in-law had already threatened to find her son a new wife, a move that would leave Kajal alone with no income, and no way to support her children. And her husband had informed her that if this was another daughter, another inconvenience, he expected her to get rid of it.
Kajal knew her husband's threats were not empty ones. Every month, 50,000 female fetuses are aborted in India—a practice that is illegal but largely ignored. Indian men outnumber women by 40 million. Women who continue to give birth to daughters are abused and threatened by their families. Baby girls are even thrown down the stairs by desperate family members.
An advocate for Kajal
This was the reality Kajal faced when she learned she was pregnant with her third daughter. But she had an advocate to protect her from this violence. Kajal began attending the Compassion's Child Survival Program when she was just a few months pregnant. She arrived at the center frightened and malnourished.
"She had not been treated well at home," says Meena, Child Survival Program Coordinator. "When she came to our center she was underweight and needed counseling and support. After being in the program, she delivered a healthy baby girl."
"My baby loves me."
Kajal named her daughter Angel—a name that would hold more meaning than Kajal could have imagined. The child that had been called a burden soon became a treasure to her family. Meena and the other staff at the center spoke constantly about God's plan for little Angel—and His plan for each of them. Angel is growing up in a home far different than the one her two older sisters were born into. Instead of focusing on an uncertain future, an expensive dowry, her family now celebrates the smiles and first steps of 1-year-old Angel.
"My baby loves me," Kajal says simply, bragging on her daughter's appetite and sweet disposition. "She is active and playful."
Raising the next generation
Angel is not the only one who has grown and developed over the past year. Kajal has grown from a frightened, lonely mother, afraid for the life of her unborn child, to a confident caregiver who takes the lessons she learns through the Child Survival Program and provides a safe, nurturing home for her daughters. Kajal is raising a generation of girls who will grow up knowing the love of a mother who did not give up or give in to cultural and family pressures.