Sir — The murder of Shafilea Ahmed by her parents, who suffocated their daughter to death in front of their four other children, was an inhuman act (“Parents get life for killing ‘too westernised’ Shafilea”, August 4). One wonders what impact this must have had on on the children, who watched the crime being committed. The ones who had given Shafilea life were the ones who brutally took it away. Her younger sister, Alesha, was the only one to later come out against her parents, and this ultimately led to their conviction.
The supposed ‘Westernization’ of Shafilea had caused her parents to murder her. One wonders what Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed understood by Westernization. The Ahmeds themselves had settled down with their children in Warrington and then had imposed their own cultural ‘values’ on them. They sent the children to local schools, but did not want them to socialize with the “white community”. They objected to Shafilea’s clothes, and were opposed to her contact with boys. If they have such a mindset, they should have thought twice before settling down in the United Kingdom. Husband and wife will have to serve a minimum of 25 years in prison. They should have been given a harsher sentence.
Nikita Kabra, Calcutta
Sir — A Delhi trial court has done a commendable job by condemning Lalit and Preeti Balhara for the merciless torture of their son, who was born to Lalit Balhara and his first wife. However, the sentence of just 10 years and the fine of Rs 60,000 for each — a negligible amount for the affluent couple — are not punishment enough for the heinous crime they committed. They deserve to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives and to have their property confiscated. Some of the confiscated wealth may be kept in government security for the upbringing of their other two children.
The Delhi High Court, on the orders of which the Delhi police filed a chargesheet against the couple, should take note of the relatively light punishment given by the district court. It should intervene in the case to ensure the toughest punishment possible for the couple, and also arrange funds for the upkeep of the victim.
Sir — The new Central government rule, which requires the online submission of information on all ultrasonography tests performed on pregnant women, will probably just cause more data collection for some time (“Online rule for all foetal scans”, July 24). Meanwhile, more computers will be bought and more money spent by clinical establishments on upgrading infrastructure. The money spent will, in turn, be extracted from the customers.
There are no quick-fix solutions to the problem of female foeticide. It requires awareness at the individual, family and community levels. Parents must think of their daughter as being at par with their son; she must be sent to school and not confined at home. Government non-government organizations must involve women in all forms of work. The recently launched Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls is a laudable effort in this direction.
Certain sections of the urban rich also share the widespread obsession with male heirs. Prominent businessmen and political leaders must step in to salute successful women and conduct programmes to educate the ignorant about the value of girls.
Sir — Humanity and fellow-feelings have decayed so much that the government has been facing a lot of trouble in trying to stop female foeticide. The authorities have been taking measures to deal with this problem. But the people must stand by their government if the steps are to bear fruit. The sex-ratio in India is becoming more and more lopsided. Things might turn scary in the future.
The Central government has ordered radiologists not to offer ultrasound scans in more than two clinics in a district (“Ultrasound curbs row”, July 20). This will only result in radiologists shunning the clinics that are not lucrative. Curbing foeticide is also the responsibility of the doctors. It is a shame that they hardly do anything in this regard.
Mukul Ranjan Chakraborty,