Keeping the flame alive
Mitu Khurana chose not to suffer in silence and fought to bring her twin female foetuses to life. The first woman to have filed a case under the PCPNDT Act (Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques) against her husband and in-laws, this doctor by profession was recently given the Idea Citizen Journalist award by a television channel.
A pregnant Mitu was allegedly forced to undergo sex determination test on her twin foetuses. The Delhi-based doctor has been fighting a case against her husband and in-laws for the past five years. After the tests confirmed the foetuses to be female, Mitu was allegedly pressurised by her in-laws to undergo an abortion. She endured abuse and harassment and gave premature birth to twin girls. Her repeated attempts to get her husband to accept the girls have failed. Instead, she was allegedly thrown out of the house, so that her husband could marry again. Mitu is now trying to fight the case under the PCPNDT Act that bans sex determination tests in India.
Says Mitu, “Female foeticide is a thriving industry in India. According to a UNICEF report, 7,000 cases of female foeticide take place everyday here. The practice is rampant. Private clinics with ultrasound machines and other latest technologies are doing brisk business, making a complete mockery of law. Everywhere, people are paying to know the sex of an unborn child and paying more to abort the female child. The technology has even reached remote areas through facilities like mobile clinics.” Mitu has also filed a case against the Rohini-based hospital and also the doctor who conducted the sex-determination tests on her.
Disappointed with the attitude of the government authorities, Mitu alleges they are hand-in-glove with the culprits. “I filed the first police complaint during my pregnancy and have been filing since then. But, apart from serving show cause notices, the police have taken no solid step towards nabbing the culprits. Instead, they are taking sides with the offenders. My husband and in-laws were given a clean chit. I have been threatened many times and persuaded to withdraw the case and told to reconcile with them. I was thrown out of my job. The judiciary should be sensitive and take a stand. It has been more than 14 years since the PCPNDT Act was implemented and the sex-ratio in our country is still falling,”she says.
Mitu laments that the girl child is still considered a burden in India. “‘Abort your daughter now, save dowry later’ is an adage in India. Antediluvian religious beliefs and backward thinking, like only the son can carry out the last rites, the insecurity of being left alone, carrying forward the family bloodline, etc. are to blame. What is appalling is that even the educated class believes in such clichés . Even an officer whom I met while filing my complaint reasoned with me, ‘What is wrong if they (in-laws) want a son? Why don’t you give them one?’”
Having lost nearly everything — her home and her job, Mitu stands undeterred in her fight. “If even after being a doctor, this is happening to me, then what could happen with my daughters? I fight to give them a safe and secure tomorrow, and will keep on until the government is stirred to deliver justice. Every woman should stand up and raise a voice.”