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Dr Mitu Khurana felicitated with prestigious ‘Karmaveer Puraskaar’

March 25, 2015

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Dr Mitu Khurana was felicitated with the prestigious ‘Karmaveer Puraskaar’ for her commendable work in the field of social service in New Delhi on 22nd March, 2015 at the exclusive awards function which is a part of “iCONGO’s REX Conclave, being organised on 21st, 22nd & 23rd March 2015.

REX is Latin for KING and REX CONCLiVE is the king of thought leadership and grassroots wisdom forums (with an eclectic mix of “ROCKSTAR SPEAKERS”,  cause related culturetainment performances, short film screenings & awards). At REX we encourage ideas to encourage proactive action to change our  world. REX CONCLiVE is the scaled up new avatar of the RIGHT every WRONG conclave, which was the first wisdom and culturetainment forum that was pivotal for pioneering huge thought leadership for addressing various social issues ranging from Education to Healthcare & Poverty  to Marginalization, Climate Change, Corruption, Electoral Reforms, CSR, Communalism, MDGs and Constitutional rights & duties awareness.

REX CONCLiVE focuses on the  following 3 pillars  of REX:

1. Right every Wrong action
2. Empowering & Entertaining Ideas
3. Xocial Innovation & Entrepreneurs

The common thread the speakers need to stitch in is how the idea can make a difference for the people and the planet. 

The iCONGO promoted KARMAVEER PURASKAAR (KVP) are the Global Awards for Social Justice and Citizen Action instituted by the people sector & civil society with various partner organisations, citizens at large and media supporters. Be the change you want to see in this world is what every KARMAVEER inherently believes and practices. 

The awards are given every year on the 26th day of November, our National Social Justice and Citizen Action Day, the day we adopted our constitutional pledge as a REPUBLIC and Indian Citizens in 1949. This year, they were given out on 22nd March, 2015 on the eve of the day our everyday hero and citizen freedom fighter, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, laid down his life for his motherland. It is the first award of its kind from India, and probably around the globe, that has been held every year for the past 8 years, at a very austere, simple and dignified program in New Delhi. 

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The KARMAVEER PURASKAAR awards ceremony has over the years become a “MELTING POT” where People from India & Global Citizens that comprise individuals ranging from princes and princesses to global bestselling authors, young politicians, statesmen, bureaucrats, ambassadors, actors, singers, captains of industry, media professionals, development workers, young adults, students, school children, homemakers, academicians, slum workers and others who come “TOGETHER as ONE to RIGHT every WRONG

The awards and the Chakra recognize and applaud the social commitment of concerned individuals, who have proactively and voluntarily worked for bringing a positive transformation in the society and the world we live in. In today’s world where there is huge apathy & indifference, we feel a paramount need for being not just a good person but also a good citizen who exercises her/ his rights, duties & responsibilities as a concerned, just and humane citizen. 

Mitu Khurana is a doctor, a trained pediatrician and a qualified hospital administrator. Throughout their childhood, Mitu and her sister were given all the opportunities to grow and flourish. However marriage exposed her to the stark reality of life of a female in India. She was exposed to the realities of daughter hatred, female foeticide, dowry harassment and domestic violence. When pregnant with twins, she was deceived into a sex determination test, followed by pressures to abort her twin daughters. Mitu left her Matrimonial Home and gave birth to her daughters. A doting mother, Mitu fought hard to give her lovely twin daughters their right to take birth and grow in a Just and enabling environment. She holds the distinction of being the first mother to file a court complainant under the PC&PNDT Act in India. Her struggle has not only encouraged other women to come forward and say no to female foeticide, but also continues to expose the extreme patriarchal attitude of the authorities faced by women who fight back abuse. Her dream is to start a Mass Movement –“Mothers against Sex Selection” (MASS) where mothers start refusing to kill their daughters just for being daughters.

We congratulate Dr Mitu Khurana for possessing the conviction and compassion to stand up, speak out and lead the change with her positive attitude! The management of iCONGO, which has selected her nomination after thorough due diligence based on the process created by the international HR audit firm MERCER and Grant Thornton, said that they were glad to have found a true champion of social justice and wish that more and more citizens gave their time, involvement and humane feelings towards addressing social justice issues and being the change and role models for other citizens to follow.

In Delhi, women are still tortured for giving birth to girls

March 11, 2015

In Delhi, women are still tortured for giving birth to girls

Sweets if it’s a boy. But faces hang when a girl is born. That’s how an attendant at a government hospital describes the arrival of a newborn in Delhi.

This lingering stress of bearing girls without giving birth to a boy allegedly drove a 27-year-old woman in Ambedkar Nagar to kill her three daughters and attempt suicide on Monday. Despite social campaigns, stricter laws and welfare schemes, many mothers are still tortured for producing a girl child. And not just domestic violence, women have to go through emotional stress, frequent jibes and insufficient meals as a price for not bearing a son.

“Since I raised my voice against my husband and in-laws, I have come across several women who shared that they had to go through multiple abortions because their families didn’t want girls. One woman was made to abort five or six times. Things have just become worse,” said Dr Mitu Khurana, the first woman to file a case under the PNDT Act in 2008. Her husband’s family tricked her into having a sex determination test when she was carrying twin girls and later forced her to terminate her pregnancy.

“There is no support system for women like me who want to make a choice and bring up their daughters. When I went to the authorities to complain, I was told to go back and give my husband a son. The government says Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. But how can a mother do that?” Khurana asks.

The ministry of Women and Child Development identified five districts of the Capital in 2013 that had a skewed child sex ratio (CSR). Of south-west, west, north, north-west and east, south-west Delhi had the lowest CSR at 845 girls per 1000 boys.

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Girls’ Lives Matter – India Bring Back Our Girls

March 11, 2015

Girls’ Lives Matter – India Bring Back Our Girls

It’s that time of year: between Christmas and New Year’s Eve – when we look back on the year that was. And what a year it was. 2014 was a year of maybe unsurpassed technological advance and progress: for the first time in the history of computing, a machine, based in Russia and pretending to be a 13 year old boy in Ukraine, passed the Turing Test. Technopathy became a real thing when Japanese researchers enabled people to turn their heating on or off, or change their television channels using just their thoughts. Robot waiter staffed restaurant chains opened in China. India sent a mission to Mars. Astronauts in orbit on space stations routinely tweet pictures of sunrise over Earth as seen from space.

But, 2014 gave us plenty of jarring, and painful reminders that humanity is not yet the advanced civilization we may appear to be becoming. It showed us without mercy that huge swathes of our human family are at risk of being buried by archaic ideologies struggling for legitimacy in the modern world. Amongst a sea of violence on an unsteady planet, gender continues to be the site of some of the most brutal primitivism practiced, and sadly it’s practiced by even the most educated and empowered in a society. In 2014 over 1m people were rightly motivated to speak out for 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. How would we have felt if we had known that in India, in 2014 alone, around one million girls were killed by their parents or families for no reason other than that they were girls.

One million girls being disappeared only because they are girls is a gendercide. And it’s an annual occurrence in the world’s largest democracy that will happen again in 2015, and perhaps grow in numbers by 2016 and future years without pressure for change. So here’s a hashtag to start a conversation: #Indiabringbackourgirls

The world is still largely writing science fiction scenarios about a society that selects its children on the basis of their genetics. But in India a terrible version of the future has arrived, and the defining preferred feature of a human baby has been narrowed down to Chromosome 23 specifically. In the last decade alone an XX there has been enough to illegally terminate up to 12m girl fetuses: monied, educated and tech savvy Indians want boy babies, and illegal sex selective terminations are how they make sure they get what they want.

Whilst sex selective terminations are illegal in India, medical staff in clinics break the law by taking the name of God to indicate to expectant parents their future child’s gender: Jai Sri Krishna, the name of the god who wrote Hinduism’s most sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita, means a baby boy; the phrase ‘Jai Mata Ki’, which ironically enough refers in Hinduism’s cosmic lexicon to the Divine Creative Feminine principle that underlies all creation, is used as code for ‘it’s a girl’ – words that signal to expectant mothers that they’ll be visiting the operating theater for an illegal termination.

A 2011 study published in the Lancet found that increasing wealth and education are both contributing to an increase in illegal sex selective termination by India’s relatively privileged. Across India, the report said, in the last two decades, women from ‘higher income, better educated families were far more likely than poorer women to terminate a pregnancy if the child is a girl, especially during a second pregnancy if the firstborn child was a girl.’

But this is not just a story about the illegal extermination of girls before they’re born. It is also a story about violence against women in Indian society. There are strong indicators that vast numbers of these illegal terminations are forcibly performed on women who are reluctant and unwilling to have them. These are women being forced by their husbands and in-laws, often physically beaten, burned or threatened with their life for refusing to terminate their babies that are girls.

Dr. Mitu Khurana’s story reported that after failing to persuade her to abort her girl child pre birth, her in laws tried to kill her four month old daughter; Nirmala Devi said in 2008, ‘My husband beat me a lot and my mother-in-law tortured me’ – she died during a forced illegal termination.

Amisha Bhatt told the Times of India in 2009 ‘In the past nine years, they have coerced me into aborting five female fetuses.’ The Lancet study reported that there were 500,000 illegal sex selective terminations happening a year. Exact numbers of how many women are being coerced into these procedures is not known but they’re unlikely to be low: like Indian culture at large, even educated, qualified, economically secure Indians feel comfortable in violating female agency, in this case producing results that combine violence against women and the eradication of the girl child.

Full Story

Girls’ Lives Matter – India Bring Back Our Girls

January 4, 2015

Girls’ Lives Matter – India Bring Back Our Girls

It’s that time of year: between Christmas and New Year’s Eve – when we look back on the year that was. And what a year it was. 2014 was a year of maybe unsurpassed technological advance and progress: for the first time in the history of computing, a machine, based in Russia and pretending to be a 13 year old boy in Ukraine, passed the Turing Test. Technopathy became a real thing when Japanese researchers enabled people to turn their heating on or off, or change their television channels using just their thoughts. Robot waiter staffed restaurant chains opened in China. India sent a mission to Mars. Astronauts in orbit on space stations routinely tweet pictures of sunrise over Earth as seen from space.

But, 2014 gave us plenty of jarring, and painful reminders that humanity is not yet the advanced civilization we may appear to be becoming. It showed us without mercy that huge swathes of our human family are at risk of being buried by archaic ideologies struggling for legitimacy in the modern world. Amongst a sea of violence on an unsteady planet, gender continues to be the site of some of the most brutal primitivism practiced, and sadly it’s practiced by even the most educated and empowered in a society. In 2014 over 1m people were rightly motivated to speak out for 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. How would we have felt if we had known that in India, in 2014 alone, around one million girls were killed by their parents or families for no reason other than that they were girls.

One million girls being disappeared only because they are girls is a gendercide. And it’s an annual occurrence in the world’s largest democracy that will happen again in 2015, and perhaps grow in numbers by 2016 and future years without pressure for change. So here’s a hashtag to start a conversation: #Indiabringbackourgirls

The world is still largely writing science fiction scenarios about a society that selects its children on the basis of their genetics. But in India a terrible version of the future has arrived, and the defining preferred feature of a human baby has been narrowed down to Chromosome 23 specifically. In the last decade alone an XX there has been enough to illegally terminate up to 12m girl fetuses: monied, educated and tech savvy Indians want boy babies, and illegal sex selective terminations are how they make sure they get what they want.

Whilst sex selective terminations are illegal in India, medical staff in clinics break the law by taking the name of God to indicate to expectant parents their future child’s gender: Jai Sri Krishna, the name of the god who wrote Hinduism’s most sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita, means a baby boy; the phrase ‘Jai Mata Ki’, which ironically enough refers in Hinduism’s cosmic lexicon to the Divine Creative Feminine principle that underlies all creation, is used as code for ‘it’s a girl’ – words that signal to expectant mothers that they’ll be visiting the operating theater for an illegal termination.

A 2011 study published in the Lancet found that increasing wealth and education are both contributing to an increase in illegal sex selective termination by India’s relatively privileged. Across India, the report said, in the last two decades, women from ‘higher income, better educated families were far more likely than poorer women to terminate a pregnancy if the child is a girl, especially during a second pregnancy if the firstborn child was a girl.’

But this is not just a story about the illegal extermination of girls before they’re born. It is also a story about violence against women in Indian society. There are strong indicators that vast numbers of these illegal terminations are forcibly performed on women who are reluctant and unwilling to have them. These are women being forced by their husbands and in-laws, often physically beaten, burned or threatened with their life for refusing to terminate their babies that are girls.

Dr. Mitu Khurana’s story reported that after failing to persuade her to abort her girl child pre birth, her in laws tried to kill her four month old daughter; Nirmala Devi said in 2008, ‘My husband beat me a lot and my mother-in-law tortured me’ – she died during a forced illegal termination.

Amisha Bhatt told the Times of India in 2009 ‘In the past nine years, they have coerced me into aborting five female fetuses.’ The Lancet study reported that there were 500,000 illegal sex selective terminations happening a year. Exact numbers of how many women are being coerced into these procedures is not known but they’re unlikely to be low: like Indian culture at large, even educated, qualified, economically secure Indians feel comfortable in violating female agency, in this case producing results that combine violence against women and the eradication of the girl child.


Full Story

Lavanya Malhotra: India’s lost girls and doctors’ complicity

August 12, 2014

Lavanya Malhotra: India’s lost girls and doctors’ complicity

According to India’s 2011 census, the sex ratio in India was 943 women for every 1000 men. Yet a recent report by the United Nations reveals that the child sex ratio in India has declined from 927 girls for every 1000 boys in 2001, to 918 in 2011. Behind this statistic, the report points out, are the clinics and medical practitioners “directly mediating sex ratios at birth via sex selection.”

Historically, Indian couples tended to keep on having children until they had produced at least one son or two. In 1974, in an effort to slow down the growth of India’s rapidly booming population, Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences said that Indian women no longer needed to produce endless children until they bore the right number of sons. Instead, the institute encouraged the determination and elimination of female fetuses. Sex determination followed by abortion would at least dissuade couples from producing extra daughters. This stand might have been conducive to curbing accelerated population growth, but it certainly didn’t help the cause of saving female children.

In 1994, the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act outlawed sex selective abortion. In 2003 it was amended to include sex selection even at the pre-conception stage. However, there are 40 000 registered ultrasound clinics in the country, and many more unregistered clinics. The skewed sex ratio may be due to an entrenched societal mindset, but the decisions to carry out sex screening and sex selective abortions lie in the hands of doctors, and those who staff the ultrasound facilities that carry out these lucrative practices.

The Mumbai High Court has ruled that authorities have the power to “seize and seal” ultrasound machines if they have been used for illegal sex determination tests. This is a start, but it is not the only answer. As medical technology progresses, ultrasounds have made way for non-invasive blood tests, which analyse cell free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in the mother’s blood to identify Y chromosome sequences and help determine fetal sex. This is possible during the first trimester of pregnancy.

India’s government could implement a policy similar to the seizing of ultrasound machinery for blood tests, but this is simply a short term punitive measure. Doctors and medical technicians themselves must realise the gravity of the situation, and refuse to carry out sex selective abortions and sex determination through any method.

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan discussed the tragedy on his television show, Satyamev Jayate, where it emerged that some doctors use a code to tell families whether the fetus is male or female. If it is a girl, they say “Jai Mata di” (“Hail the mother goddess”—a common greeting), and if it is a boy, the phrase is “Jai Shri Krishna” (“Hail Lord Krishna”). The illegality of sex selection is generally ignored, with the husband and his family able to make the decision on whether to abort the fetus if it is female.

This is clearly against medical ethics and women’s rights, but the culprit doctors are ultimately products of their society. Far from doctors setting a moral example, the UN report reveals that there are studies on the sex ratios of the children of medical doctors and gynaecologists, “whose skew makes it undeniable that they are guilty of practising sex selection for themselves.”

Appearing on the show Satyamev Jayate, Delhi based doctor Mitu Khurana recounted how she was harangued by her orthopaedic surgeon husband and parents in law to abort her twin girls after 20 weeks of conceiving.

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IT’S A GIRL- THE WAR ON WOMEN

August 12, 2014

IT’S A GIRL- THE WAR ON WOMEN

IT’S A GIRL, a 2012 documentary movie on the gendercide and the widespread devaluation, abuse and neglect of women and girl’s in India, China and the rest of the world. Directed by Evan Grae Davis, this documentary is a compelling and shocking look at the war we have allowed to go on against women for so long.

On my regular hunt for new documentaries to watch, I came across It’s A Girl and knew I had to watch it. But I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The synopsis on IMBD for this documentary was indeed shocking but not in any way news to me, “every year in India and China, millions of babies are killed, neglected or abandoned simply because they are girls.” 1 in 4 girls in India don’t even make it till puberty.
However, before this film I had never heard of the word ‘Gendercide,’ which is mentioned in the documentary frequently. According to Wikipedia, “Gendercide is the systematic killing of members of a specific sex, in this case, women.”

It’s A Girl also highlights other cruel, shocking and dehumanizing issues including,

Female Infanticide- The deliberate killing of a newborn female child or the termination of a female fetus through abortion.

Dowry Death- The deaths of young women who are murdered or take their own life due to continuous harassment, abuse and torture from their husbands and in-laws in an effort to receive an increased dowry (money or property given from the daughters family to the her husbands in marriage.)

Sex Selective Abortion- Terminating a baby because of the predicted gender of the child.

Forced Abortion/ Forced Sterilization- Forced abortion is when a woman is forced against her will to terminate a child through threat, force, or coercion.

Child Trafficking- The selling or trading of children for the purpose of exploitation.

Abandonment- In this case, deserting or leaving female children because they are seen of a burden to a family.

Illegal Pregnancy- In China there is a one child law where it is illegal for parents to try and have more than one child. Many who only have girls wish to try for a boy.

I feel so connected to all women around the world, therefore it is very hard for me not to be deeply moved and angry listening to the stories of the women interviewed and the issues raised in this film. Seeing the blatant disregard for women and girls lives on the basis of gender, something you cannot decide, is completely shocking.

I remember reading Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, and reading about one of the women who prayed and asked Buddha to bring her back as a dog or an insect, anything but a woman. Even thinking of this now brings tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine how many women there are in the world who pray for this every day, how many mothers pray and wish for their unborn child not to be a girl so that they will not suffer in the ways that they have.

Despite the serious and shocking issues the film covers, it also manages to be very inspiring. I found Dr. Mitu Khurana to be particularly inspiring and powerful. From a “victim to a survivor” when she became pregnant with twins, her in-laws and her husband tortured her and bribed a doctor to perform an illegal ultrasound which revealed both twins were girls. They then tried to force her to get an abortion, but Dr. Khurana managed to escape back to her parents and give birth to her daughters. Now she fights for women’s rights and is making legal history in her brave attempts to strengthen the law which forbids gender testing. It’s hard not to be affected by her story.

The film also featured inspiring and passionate women’s rights activists, like Rita Banerji, founder of the 50 Million Missing Campaign and Reggie Littlejohn, President of the Womenʼs Rights Without Frontiers. Despite all the work that needs to be done in the world and the constant pain that is brought on women, it always makes me feel proud to have sisters like this in the world who dedicate their lives to making a better world for women. As Rita Banerji said, “everyone is involved” in this fight for women, as human beings, we are all connected.

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I Like Giving Life

May 1, 2014

I Like Giving Life

A mother in India gives life to her twin daughters despite immense adversity

When Mitu Khurana found out she was carrying twins, she could have easily joined millions of other Indian women and gone for an illegal sex determination test to ensure they were sons. Daughters are a disaster for families in India, because when they grow up, they join their husbands family upon marriage and take with them years worth of income in the form of marriage dowry.

But Mitu was a pediatrician, and one of two daughters of her father, who had no sons. So maybe Mitu grew up with a different idea of the value of girls. Whatever the reason, when Mitu’s husband and parents-in-law insisted she get an illegal ultrasound to ensure she was carrying boys, Mitu refused.

Mitu was locked in a room for three days with no food. When she still did not relent, her husband and in-laws, who knew she was allergic to eggs, devised a plan. They gave her a cake, made with egg, and when Mitu became ill, took her to a nearby hospital. They convinced the doctor to perform an ultrasound under the guise of ensuring her kidneys were not damaged by the episode. The doctor delivered the news they were most afraid to hear: the twins were girls.

A violent campaign ensued to convince Mitu to abort the girls and try again for a son. Mitu held her ground. After an argument, her husband, in a rage, pushed Mitu down a flight of stairs. Mitu was then locked in a room, hurt and bleeding, in hopes she would miscarry.

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