For many Indians who may have seen Ireland through an Indian filmmaker’s creative oeuvre, a not so dreamy version of this quaint European country has been revealed over the last couple of days.
Suddenly now, Indians know that Ireland is a Catholic country with conservative laws
where social and religious edicts take precedence over personal choices.
And that revelation comes in the wake of the death of Savita Hallapanavar, a young Indian origin woman who was working as a dentist in Ireland.
In what has become an international issue of debate, and renewed the pro-choice protests in Ireland, Savita’s death was allegedly the result of strict catholic laws followed by the hospital she was admitted to for pregnancy related complications. The hospital apparently refused to medically terminate her pregnancy despite repeated requests by Savita and her husband, because “it was a Catholic country” and abortion therefore was illegal. Savita was admitted to hospital on Oct 21 and died of septicemia on Oct 28.
Now the Irish official spokesperson has clarified that Irish law does permit termination of pregnancy in medical emergencies, and that the Irish government is investigating the matter with the doctors who were treating Savita.
My heart goes out to Savita’s family which has suffered this loss and I hope all this public debate does not end up in loss of dignity too for them, what with the shrill voices of all those unconcerned who will gladly offer sound bites to the media.
While the unfortunate death itself has caused women’s rights activists in Ireland to rise in mass protest demanding that the archaic laws of Ireland be changed, in India, the debate in the mass media has taken on a framed tone about how an ‘Indian’ was treated in a ‘Western country’ and to a larger extent on religion and social discrimination of women there, instead of focusing on the larger pro and anti-choice debate in the western countries.
But wait, why all this debate in India? Just because this family happens to be of Indian origin?
With no disrespect meant to Savita’s grieving family, I think this issue simply should not be debated in this country. With dozens of media cameras going off in their face, Savita’s Bangalore-based parents righteously “demanded” that the Irish government should change its laws. I can understand their grief; but not the gripe of the many others who are simply demanding a change of Irish laws.
I wonder if all those making such demands today of the Irish government have ever demanded that the Indian government should implement stricter laws to tackle the increasing crimes against women in India?
For a country that records such high numbers of bride burnings, rapes, molestations, trafficking, domestic abuse, and most importantly female infanticide, it is beyond irony that it should be sitting in judgment to teach the Irish how they should handle their laws.
It is the intrepid Indian media that ridiculed a federal minister who advised women of this country to assert their right to something as basic as a toilet. This is a country whose village elders endorse honour killing of women who choose their life partners as against marrying someone of their family’s choice. This is a country whose police and just random men thrash women in public, who they deem as immoral. This country’s doctors comply with parental wishes and kill girl children even before they are born.
So, give me a break, Indian media and self-appointed protectors of women’s rights. Save your energies and breath, and let the Irish investigate their apparent lapses.