While the safest place for a child is in his mother’s arms, desperation may turn her into the child’s worst enemy—and poverty might drive her to commit murder.
Shathi Akhter, who poisoned her two-month old child last year was only 18 when she committed the crime. She claimed her grief and anger had compelled her to commit the crime, as she could not bear to hear her child’s cries of hunger.
By this time, she had already given birth to two children. Her daughter, Sabiha, is now three years old, meaning Shathi was underage when she had her first child.
When she should have been studying, she was already caring for two children. Her husband, a carpenter by profession, would leave home at 5am every morning and return late at night, leaving her to raise the children alone.
Father of the child, Sheikh Bacchu, had originally filed the case against his wife on September 10, 2018.
A day earlier, Shathi had called her husband and asked him to bring milk for the child. When Bachhu said he was going to be late, she went knocking on her neighbours’ doors for money to buy milk for him. When they refused and insulted her, she became angry and grief-stricken and force-fed salt to her son, Saif.
When Bachhu returned home that night, he heard from his family members that his wife and aunt had taken Saif to the Dohar Upazila Hospital, where the on-duty doctor pronounced him dead.
Initially, Shathi had blamed their daughter, two-year-old Sabiha, of poisoning her child. However, Bachhu suspected his wife and filed a case against her.
Previously, on September 11, 2018, Shathi confessed to killing her child. She will now stand before a court for trial. Dohar police submitted the charge sheet against her on April 21 this year.
In her confession statement, Shathi expressed regret for the crime and said she had committed a big mistake. “I could not tolerate the cries of my starving children,” she told the magistrate who recorded her confession.
Dhaka District Legal Aid Officer, Md Alamgir Hossain, said: “Everyone has the right to legal representation as per our constitution. Though she has been accused of committing a grave offense, the court will decide on the verdict.”
Kamal Krisno Ray, Session Judge Court bench assistant said the case is ready for trial and witness cross examination will also start very soon in the court.
“The government legal aid office is also providing legal support for her bail and necessary legal action as she has no pleader,” he added.
Despite recent progress in Bangladesh in the areas of poverty and human development indicators such as literacy and life expectancy, inequalities in income and consumption rates have increased, with 32% of the population living below the poverty line.