Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fighting infant killings in Indian slums

INDIA (BP)--A baby girl, only a few hours old, is carried to her execution.

The woman who holds her calls herself a midwife, but everyone in this Indian slum knows who she really is: the bringer of death.

As the woman approaches the pressure cooker, the baby's mother does nothing. She has already paid, after all, about 30 cents for her newborn daughter to be boiled alive.

The woman lowers the squirming infant into the water. The lid snaps shut. The flames rise. Then the infant's scalded corpse is tossed to the dogs for them to devour.

Even more common, a mother refuses to nurse her starving baby until the "midwife" arrives to silence her infant daughter's pleading cries with a bottle of poison and cold indifference.

If the mother cannot find help, she kills the child herself. Then she unceremoniously buries her baby beneath her house, perhaps beside other daughters discarded before this baby.

How could a mother murder her own child?

Such questions probe the depths of human depravity -- and the passionate efforts of Christians who, at least in their small corner of India, may finally be turning the tide.

Sati Alva*, an Indian Christian, lives a short walk from one of her city's slums. A squalid expanse of grimy one-room houses and trash-strewn alleys, it is a place teeming with misery. The men savagely beat their wives in nightly rages fueled by the alcohol they spend all their earnings to buy. The traumatized women turn to prostitution or menial labor to survive, leaving their children to gamble, drink and steal.

"That's the condition in the slum," Sati said. "Even the mothers don't really care for the children."

The children are Sati's main concern. With help from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, she and her husband Ravindra* run an after-school feeding and education program where more than 200 slum children come to escape their abusive homes, get help with homework, eat perhaps their only meal of the day -- and learn about Jesus.

Full story in Baptist Press tells how Indian Christians and Southern Baptist hunger funds are working to save lives in this Indian slum.