Dr. Ganesh Rakh is an Indian doctor who hopes to fight his country’s stigma on bearing daughters after realizing that these practices have lead to a skewered male to female ratio within the country.
According to the BBC,”The biggest challenge for a doctor is to tell relatives that a patient has died. For me, it was equally difficult to tell families that they’d had a daughter,” he explained in a statement.
“They would celebrate and distribute sweets if a male child was born, but if a girl was born, the relatives would leave the hospital, the mother would cry, and the families would ask for a discount. They would be so disappointed.”
Horrifyingly enough, some even take drastic measures upon the unborn child in hopes that it will end up male. As he explained, “Many told me that they had taken treatment to ensure the birth of a male child. I was surprised, as I wasn’t aware of any such treatment. But they spoke about consulting a holy man, or would talk of putting some medicine into the mother’s nostril to ensure she delivered a boy.”
Things have gotten to a point where former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had even deemed the female foeticide within the country a “national shame.”
The 2011 census figures were what inspired Rakh, a man who adores his own young daughter, to encourage families to celebrate their newborn daughters.
“I decided I would not charge any fee if a girl was born. Also, since a son’s birth was celebrated by the family, we decided we [at the hospital] would celebrate a daughter’s birth.” When a new child is born, Rakh and the hospital staff release a cake with lit candles and sing “Happy Birthday” to the newborn, in addition to giving flowers to the parents.
Rakh’s work has made him a popular doctor within the area. “There are hospitals closer home, but we came here because Dr Rakh doesn’t ask for money,” says Rahul Khalse, one of his patients, who recently had a daughter named Angel.
Over a four year period, nearly 500 girls have been born at the hospital, without parents being charged a fee.
Not employing a fee has caused some trouble for the doctor. “We are economically not well off,” said his wife Trupti Rakh in a statement, “So when he told me about his decision, I was worried as to how I would run the house.”
Fortunately, they had family to help them, with Rakh’s father promising to help by returning to work as a porter if the need arose.
Now, Rakh is honored as a hero for his work, with some doctors inspired by him offering to perform free services. People ranging from government officials, ministers, and Bollywood superstar Amitabh have all hailed him as a hero. “I started a small thing. I didn’t know it would be received like this,” Rakh added, “but sometimes small things impact minds in a big way.”