Dear Prime Minister,
We appreciate your statement while launching Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, you said that female foeticide is a sign of ‘mental illness’. You further said that if this discrimination does not end it could cause a “terrible crisis” soon because of a lack of women in the country.
While appreciating your effort, we are sharing a hard reality of those who raised their voices against this mental illness’. A mother who showed courage to save her unborn daughter finally ended bleakly. A ten-years struggle for the first woman in India to file a case against her husband and her in-laws under laws banning sex determination of fetuses ended when, a trial court in Delhi dismissed her case in September 2015.
Dr Mitu Khurana, a Delhi-based paediatrician, whose story was also shared on Satyamev Jayate, lost the 10 yr old fight and accused was discharged. Despite torture and violence at the hands of her husband and in-laws, she has fought to save her twin daughters from being selectively aborted. In 2008, Mitu Khurana became the first woman in India to file a case against her husband and in laws under this act. Married in 2004, Khurana became pregnant with twins in April 2005, and, in her complaint to the court, she alleged that her in-laws pressured her continually to determine the sex of the foetuses.
Dear Prime Minister, we know that you are serious about eradicating this maniac. Your statement while launching the campaign, as “the Prime Minister of this country had come to them like a beggar and was begging for the lives of daughters, has strengthen a mother’s faith in society and justice. This is not only about Dr Mitu Khurana, the fight is of every Indian who has a daughter, of every Indian who wants India to be a safer place. The Fight is of every woman who wants to/will want to save her daughters. The fight is of every unborn girl who was/will be killed for being a girl.
Hereby, a mother, a women and whole India is looking to you to provide justice, and ensure that Mitu Khurana shouldn’t be the last woman in India to file a case against culprits under this act.
Dear Friends and Supporters,
The lower court has dismissed my P.N.D.T complaint despite all evidence. I will however fight back, but need the support of all of you. The orders discharging the accused is a closed door for all other women who want to come forward to speak out against their accused, in their lawful obligation to protect their daughters.
If I appeal alone in the higher court, the orders will be same. This time I want all of you with me, with you extending your support in media, in social media, in talking with others, and watching over the orders as they come in. I cannot do this alone. Please share, blog, and tweet with the hashtag #IStandWithDrMituKhurana.
I want people to realize I do not get any monetary benefit from this case. I just want my daughters, our daughters, to have and to inherit a safer, better world. As sex ratios decline, our society is becoming more violent — crime in general, and crime against women in particular, is increasing.
This is not about me. This is about all women who want to save their daughters. This is about all of us, as a people, as a nation.
Standing with you all in Solidarity!
Dr. Mitu Khurana
Please repost the article; use #IStandWithDrMituKhurana if posting to twitter. Please leave us your thoughts and comments below. We need and appreciate your support!
Personal message from Dr. Mitu Khurana
A seven-year struggle for the first woman in India to file a case against her husband and her in-laws under laws banning sex determination of fetuses ended bleakly when, on Tuesday, a trial court in Delhi dismissed her case.
Dr Mitu Khurana, a Delhi-based paediatrician had been fighting to protect her twin daughters and get justice for herself since 2005, from her husband and her in-laws, with an uncooperative police and legal system.
Khurana herself refused to talk to the press, breaking down repeatedly over the phone.
Her lawyer, AN Agarwal, told dna he had no idea what happened in court, as the order seemed to not have taken into account any of their arguments. “They didn’t even take cognisance of the case till 2011 because they didn’t know the law till we explained it word for word,” he added. The accused in the case were her husband, her in-laws, the hospital and the imaging centre that performed the ultrasound, and the radiologist who signed off on it.
The court’s 17-page order dismissed the case based on ‘lacunae’ in circumstantial evidence.
The Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics and Test Act was passed in 1994 and, in 2008, Khurana became the first woman in India to file a case against her husband and in laws under this act. Married in 2004, Khurana became pregnant with twins in April 2005, and, in her complaint to the court, she alleged that her in-laws pressured her continually to determine the sex of the fetuses. When she resisted, they allegedly tricked her into being hospitalised at Jaipur Golden Hospital, a fairly large and renowned facility in north-west Delhi, where they conspired with doctors to get a sex determination test done.
In her complaint she wrote that they fed her cake with egg, which she is allergic to, making her so ill as to need immediate attention.
After the test, which she remained unaware of till her husband drunkenly confessed to her a year later, she was pressured towards an abortion. Alarmed she tried complaining to her local police station, who did not file an FIR as they were not the concerned authority. However, said Agarwal, they did not inform Khurana that she should approached the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO).
“Her husband even gave her an apology in writing, along with an assurance that he would never do such a thing to her again,” said Agarwal.
Only in 2008, through sheer accident, did she come across the medical report that, her complaint read, confirmed to her that the hospital had performed a fetus ultrasound without her consent, instead of the Kidney Urator Bladder ultrasound she need for her allergy to be treated. This time, Agarwal said, she complained to the CDMO, who carried out a raid in the hospital and found merit in her complaint. They found evidence that the crucial Form F, that has to be filled by patients for ultrasound sonography, was not filled properly, as was the case with Khurana.
“Even then, they only took cognisance in 2011 and issued summons to the accused,” said Agarwal.
The state response has been disappointing all along. In 2012, Dr Harsh Mahajan, the director of the imaging centre, and one of the accused in Khurana’s case, in 2012, appointed as a member of a committee, which is set to examine and possibly amend the format of Form F, as he was the president of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association.
Luis Martinez, Entertainment Editor
September 9, 2015
Filed under News
The University Board Ideas and Issues committee showed the first film of their documentary series, aimed to discuss serious topics Wednesday in Coleman Hall.
While the turnout for the viewing was not very high, the film’s message was still received by those in attendance.
Ariel O’Neal, the university board Idea and Issues coordinator, said the audience turnout was not quite what she had expected.
“I think it could have been better,” O’Neal said. “I’m happy for the people that did come out because they enjoyed the movie and got educated about this topic.”
The first of the series was “It’s A Girl”, a documentary film focusing on the topic of “gendercide” in both India and China.
The film interviews different women and families about instances where they killed their daughter or were in situations where they were force to do so.
One such story from the film focused on a family in India with four daughters. The parents were happy to have four daughters, but they had their eldest daughter marry a man she did not like.
The eldest daughter gave birth to a daughter, and the marriage became abusive. In the end, the eldest daughter was killed and the husband barely received any penalty.
Another one of the stories told in the film was the one of Mitu Khurana, an Indian doctor who was forced to undergo a sex determination exam by her husband. When Khurana was discovered to be pregnant with twin girls, her husband ordered her to terminate the pregnancy.
When she chose not to, her husband pushed her down a flight of stairs and locked her away. Khurana managed to give birth to her daughters, and is currently one of the first woman to speak out against her husband and try to bring him to justice.
The most common reason families choose to get rid of their daughter is because of poverty.
“I think (the film) was very informative. It sheds light on an epidemic that we as American women don’t always think about,” O’Neal said. “I also think it’s very sad how women and baby girl are treated and makes me feel luck that I’m alive.”
Blame it on the unaccountability of the authorities, but the PNDT Act – which was enacted to curb female foeticide and arrest the declining gender ratio in India – has turned into a farce.
In nearly two decades since the law came into force, not a single convict has been imprisoned in the Capital.
Various trial courts in Delhi have shied away from awarding the maximum punishment to offenders and instead let off the convicts with a nominal fine of Rs 1,000.
The PNDT Act provides for a maximum punishment of a three-year jail term and a penalty of up to Rs 50,000.
Despite rulings by the Supreme Court and various high courts to make the existing law a deterrent, the courts have shown reluctance in sending offenders to jail.
In many cases, the convicts have been let off with a mere warning from the judge, prompting a reaction from the legal fraternity as well as social and academic activists.
Lawyers and activists have unanimously demanded deterrent punishment for the guilty while also fixing the accountability of the competent authorities handling the cases of sex detection.
Information provided by Delhi government’s health department in response to an RTI application suggests that 31 out of 52 cases under PNDT Act are pending in various Delhi courts.
However, in the remaining 21 cases disposed of by courts, no convict has been awarded a jail term since 1996, when the Act was enforced.
RTI applicant and activist Dr Mitu Khurana said the police and state government were equally responsible for making the law a “toothless tiger”.
“It is apparent that the prosecuting agencies are not taking these cases seriously, and the fact is well known to offenders. There is no fear of law as it has failed to be a deterrent,” Khurana said.
In the majority of the cases disposed of by the trial courts, the prosecuting agencies chose not to appeal before the higher courts, thus adding to the plight of victims.
To mention a few cases, a magisterial court at Rohini in the national Capital disposed of four cases under PNDT Act in May this year.
In three of these cases, convicts were imposed a meagre fine of Rs 1,000 while in another case the offender walked free with just a warning.
According to the RTI response, three cases in Rohini and Tis Hazari courts were disposed of after the prosecuting agencies withdrew from the case citing inability to establish the charge.
Similarly, the Dwarka district court discharged the accused owing to failure of the prosecution.
The data shows that 20 cases under the PNDT Act have been pending for over a decade despite the facts that the Supreme Court has directed the lower courts to decide such cases within six months.
A deep-seated cultural preference for boys is skewing India’s sex ratio and making slaves of women.
Bibipur, India – The jubilant young man’s arrival brought an abrupt halt to the card game contested by the turbaned group sitting under the tree.
He thought he had good news for them: “I’ve been blessed with a baby girl!” he announced proudly.
The response was not what he expected – the group’s shock quickly turned to ridicule.
“Why didn’t you get her killed in the womb?” came the collective cry. “Did you not get a gender determination test done on the foetus?”
Such a test is illegal in India, but this reaction – discovered during an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera in the village of Bibipur – is a reflection of prevailing male-chauvinistic attitudes in the country.
Cycle of imbalance
The deep-seated cultural preference for sons has skewed India’s 1.2 billion population’s gender demographic, particularly in the western states of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab.
In Haryana’s Jind district, where Bibipur is located, the sex ratio is 871 females per 1,000 males, compared with the national average of 940, according to the 2011 census.
It has prompted men from these areas to hunt for brides in impoverished regions such as West Bengal and Bihar, and even as far away as Kerala in the south.
But it hasn’t changed their attitudes: Even the brides brought in are forced to abort their baby girls, thus perpetuating the cycle of imbalance – as in Bibipur.
One of the cardplayers – whose own conservative family had broken strict social norms and bought him a teenage bride from West Bengal due to the scarcity of girls in Haryana – was quick to boast about his experience with female foeticide.
“My wife was already three months pregnant when we got to know about it,” said the 40-year-old, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
“We immediately got an ultrasonography test done on her. Reports suggested that it was a baby girl, but the doctor refused to abort the baby, saying that it could endanger the life of both the mother and the baby,” the cardplayer said.
Undeterred, the man’s family and friends gave him “a list of doctors and clinics in Haryana and Rajasthan where hassle-free abortions are done”.
The next stage involved fooling the 19-year-old wife into thinking she was going to a distant relative’s wedding in Jaipur.
“We took her to a predesignated clinic in the city,” explained the husband.
“Since it was not possible to abort the baby, the doctors put a pill in her genitals. In the morning, the game was over as my visibly shaken wife confirmed the news that the ‘bits of the baby’s body parts came out while passing urine’,” the man said.
‘Wives are like slaves’
In a 2011 study, British medical journal Lancet found that up to 12 million Indian female foetuses had been aborted in the previous three decades.
Last year, the United Nations said the dwindling number of Indian girls had reached “emergency proportions” and was contributing to crimes against women.
The imported brides, known as “paros”, are treated like domestic slaves who have little or no inheritance rights on the family property, according to Smita Khanijow of anti-poverty agency ActionAid India.
“Women are not a commodity which can be traded as ‘brides’ on demand of the market,” she told Al Jazeera.
“We need to treat women as equal human beings to men, and give them dignity and rights.”
But in many parts of India, the list of unmarried males older than 40 is growing longer – and more desperate for a wife.
During last year’s general elections, Bibipur – which means “Village of Brides” – hit the headlines when a local organisation called Kunwara Union – or “Bachelors’ Union” – told candidates: “Give us brides and win our votes!”
India’s Minister of Women and Child Welfare Maneka Gandhi says sex-selective abortion is a “problem of affluence”.
“Every day around 2,000 girls are killed in the womb or immediately after birth in India,” she told Al Jazeera – though a UN report says the daily number is around 7,000.
“People start planning their family in a rather regressive way – instead of counting their numbers, they start counting the children’s sex. What they want, they want. Anything else becomes collateral damage.”
‘Shame the families’
It is not just poor women who are forced to fight to save their baby girls. Doctor Mitu Khurana, a Delhi-based paediatrician, is hoping to set a legal precedent after taking her husband and in-laws to court for “conspiring to kill her twin daughters in the womb”.
Khurana said her in-laws sedated her and illegally procured a gender test during her pregnancy, and then pressured her to abort the babies.
She defied them, and returned to her family’s home to give birth in 2005.
“When I returned at my in-laws’ house with the babies, my mother-in-law pushed one of the infants down the stairs. Fortunately, I arrived in time and rescued my baby,” Khurana told Al Jazeera.
As well as being an issue of cultural preference, female foeticide is also an economic issue for families.
Although the long-standing tradition of dowry – a payment to the groom’s family – has been illegal since 1961, it is still practised in many communities.
“We are poor people, somehow making ends meet,” said a three-wheel rickshaw driver in Jaipur, Rajasthan – another state where the sex ratio is under the national average, according to the 2011 census.
“I got my second daughter aborted for fear of paying dowry for her marriage when she grows up,” the 30-year-old told Al Jazeera, under the condition of anonymity. “As it is, I am finding it difficult to save enough money for the dowry of my first daughter.”
Khurana said India needs to change its attitude towards dowry in order to save the lives of female children.
“Dowry is already illegal, but it has to be made shameful,” she said. “You have to shame the families giving and taking dowry.”
Why I was being harassed ? This statement completely takes away the heart throbs of all the mothers who were being forced to kill their child in the foetal stage on the basis of sex determination test that states that they carrying daughters in their womb.
It was always believed that education makes a human being more civilized than those who are uneducated but is it a civilized behaviour by a doctor who not only threatened his wife for dowry after marriage but also was ready to try every means and efforts to kill his twin daughters in womb.
Is it education where a retired woman vice principal wanted all from her daughter in law to kill her granddaughters and tortured her to the limit that the poor daughter in -law wanted to commit suicide . Most surprising is the fact that it all happened in the capital city of our country Delhi where educated people live.
Dr Mitu Khurana was not only being harassed for a Honda city car as a means of dowry but was also asked to terminate her pregnancy when her in laws forcibly did a sex determination test on her . Getting married to the educated family where each individual is well settled in their professions she was forced to see the face of evil creatures who were wearing the mask of civilized individuals.