• Insufficient weight gain • Vaginal/Cervical/Kidney infections • Vaginal Bleeding • Abdominal Trauma • Hemorrhage • Exacerbation of chronic illnesses • Complications during labour • Delayed prenatal care • Miscarriage • Low birth weight • Ruptured membranes • Abruption placenta • Uterine infection • Fetal bruising, fractures and hematomas • Death
“He hit me so often. I don’t know how I didn’t have an abortion (miscarriage),” Kamala says. She cries a little when she says this. As she went deeper into pregnancy, she realised that her husband was not going to change. She also started suspecting that her husband did not really want a child. Something in her shifted toward a hunger for survival, and the urge to protect her unborn baby. If Kamala stayed with him, the possibility of her baby having low birth weight was high. As such, he / she would have an increased risk of death or of developing several health and developmental disorders. Low birth weight infants are at greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), breathing problems, cerebral palsy, heart disorders and learning disabilities.
Unsurprisingly, violent men do not change after the baby is born. The child often become one more receptacle for their aggression and violence. Babies of abusive fathers are also likely to be abused after birth. This creates and continues infinite cycles of violence.Kamala got out. Perhaps, it was this nadir of vulnerability that created a new strength in her. Perhaps, it was the fact that she had healthy self-esteem before the abuse started. “My family hardly ever scolded me, let alone hit me,” she says. “I couldn’t believe that he could do this to me.” Even while taking the abuse, she knew that it was not normal. She knew she deserved better. Initial paralysis gave way to strength and she called her family. “I told them this man will end up killing me.” Kamala left her husband when she was four months pregnant. She moved back to her mother’s house. Her two elder sisters helped and supported this decision, both emotionally and materially. But there were other decisions that Kamala had to make. She came from a fairly progressive family, which meant that she had the option of not having the child. “Some told me to get an abortion,” she says. “Since I was leaving him, they said it would be better for me to be free. But I thought if the baby didn’t die when he beat me so much, then maybe it was meant to live. I also thought now I am alone. I should also have someone, some reason to live. My baby will be my own.” Again, her mother and sisters backed her choice and this allowed Kamala to give birth. She had a baby, a girl child. In the aftermath, there is a long case to be fought. (She has filed for divorce but her husband is making promises to change. He also wants to see their daughter.) There are fractured reconciliations. There are wounds. There are questions. “I thought he would love me,” she says. There is something bewildered in her eyes. Then she shakes her head. “Anyway, now I just want a job. I have to earn enough to give her a life.” ___