Dr. Mitu Khurana: the defender of India’s baby girls
One of the most remarkable stories shared in the new documentary “It’s a Girl” is that of Dr. Mitu Khurana and her daughters. Their story is shocking and distressing, exposing how the prejudice against female children permeates all levels of Indian society, while also being a testimony to the great love that a mother has for her children and how she can rise above her own fears to protect them.
In the fall of 2004, Dr. Khurana, a pediatrician, was married to Dr. Kamal Khurana, an orthopedic surgeon in Delhi, India. Shortly after, her in-laws started making demands for additions to her dowry – a new car, more jewelry, an apartment. They abused her when these demands weren’t met by Mitu’s parents.
In January of 2005, Mitu became pregnant. Upon hearing the news, her husband was initially very happy. That is, until her mother-in-law started demanding that a sex determination test be done. Mitu discovered she was carrying twins in February. If they were girls, her in-laws were determined that she should have an abortion of at least one but preferably both babies.
In an attempt to limit the high rate of sex-selective abortions committed against girls in India, the government has outlawed the sex determination test. Mitu refused to have the tests done and was severely persecuted by her husband and in-laws for her stubbornness. Finally, they locked her in a room and devised a plan. Mitu is allergic to eggs, so they baked a cake and told her it was egg-free, forcing her to eat it. That evening, she developed severe allergic symptoms but was denied medical aid until the next morning when she was brought to the hospital.
At the hospital, she was admitted to the labour room, even though she was only 16 weeks pregnant. The doctor who saw her ordered a series of tests, including ultrasound scans of her kidneys. They sedated Mitu and brought her to the ultrasound room where the doctor ended up doing a full fetal scan – revealing that she was carrying two baby girls.
Shortly after, she was discharged and sent home. The pressure was on for Mitu to consent to have an abortion. Mitu had been put on bed rest but her sister-in-law repeatedly made her clean the floors, in hopes of inducing a miscarriage. During an argument, her husband pushed her down a flight of stairs, then locked her in a room. Bruised and bleeding, she managed to call her father. Mitu told him that he had given her to death rather than marriage. He picked her up and brought her home the next morning.