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Inconvenient Truths

June 14, 2017
 Inconvenient Truths

“Invest Rs.500 now and save Rs.50, 000 later” are advertisements still seen in Indian cities for gender biased sex-selection and elimination.Writer, Patralekha Chatte

rjee catches up with Mitu Khurana who had made legal history by prosecuting her doctor husband for illegally making her go through a sex-determination test but her fight is far from over.

I have been writing about gender biased sex selection and sex selective elimination for years. I filed my first report on the subject in 1988. It was about a notorious doctor couple in Amritsar who openly ran an anti-natal sex determination clinic. “Invest Rs.500 now and save Rs.50, 000 later”, they advertised. The blatant message that elimination of a female foetus could save parents the expenditure on dowry earned them huge notoriety, also customers. The doctors viewed their work as ‘social service.’

“We are saving the mothers and the unwanted daughters,” the wife told me without the slightest trace of remorse. I remember my visit to their clinic. It was a week-day evening. A row of young women were waiting patiently outside their chamber. Many were newly married. All looked tense, distraught. I remember one woman in an advanced stage of pregnancy. She was all too aware of the risks of an abortion in her state but the fear of what would happen to her if she gave birth to a baby girl came through as she whispered.

That distressing image has stayed with me.

Over the years, I have filed more reports — interviews with intrepid activists fighting to get culprits punished, with doctors who were willing to critique their own community and so on.

India has changed. But the deep-seated cultural preference for sons remains as strong as ever. Earlier it was seen as an obsession confined to some parts of the country – the north and the west. Today, the diabolic coming together of prejudice and misuse of technology has spread the problem across the country.

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India’s disappearing daughters: Child sex ratios continue to plummet all over the country

June 13, 2017

India’s disappearing daughters: Child sex ratios continue to plummet all over the country

Exactly a month ago, Dr Mitu Khurana lost a 11-year-old court battle. This gutsy mother of twin daughters was the first woman in India to file a case under the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act — the great legal tool which is supposed to protect the lives of our unborn daughters. Her lengthy battle came to end in just five minutes when the Supreme Court dismissed it on a technicality.

Dr Khurana’s case is a well documented one and has been covered quite extensively by the Indian and foreign press. She is a doctor, married into a family of doctors, and more importantly — a strong and determined woman who never gave up. She had said that in 2005 when she was under heavy sedation, her in-laws had got an illegal sex determination test done in a high-end clinic in Jaipur. She had proof that this was an unregistered clinic and that the crucial Form F which records the woman’s consent to have an ultrasound had gone missing… all punishable offences under the PCPNDT Act.

And yet she lost.

Meanwhile in other parts of the country, sonographers or ultrasound specialists who do the very important task of scanning pregnant women to check fetal health, went on a one day strike in protest against what they called the draconian PCPNDT Act. They wanted the Act amended because they said they were being persecuted for trivial reasons like a clerical error.

“Look at the piles of paperwork to be done for every single scan,” said an exasperated sonologist at a conference on sex selective abortion. “If I slip on even a single one, I can get arrested and my ultrasound machine can be locked. I came into this field because I was interested in fetal health. Now I regret it. This was once the most popular specialisation for gynaecologists. Now the youngsters are afraid to get into this field.”

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Decade-Long War Against Female Foeticide Cut Short Within Minutes

June 13, 2017

Decade-Long War Against Female Foeticide Cut Short Within Minutes

Doctor Mitu Khurana was the first woman to wage a legal war against female foeticide under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994. But her decade-long war was cut short by the Supreme Court within minutes.

Khurana, a proud mother of twin girls, was the first woman to file a case under the PNDT Act for being subjected to pre-natal sex determination test while, she claims, being heavily sedated and without her consent.

On 16 September, the Supreme Court dismissed Khurana’s appeal against a Delhi High Court ruling in a manner which can be termed as “grossly erroneous at best”, said advocate Indira Unninayar, who represented Khurana.

Falling Child Sex Ratio Illegal sex determination: Did Mitu Khurana lose as a result of judicial insensitivity?

June 13, 2017

Illegal sex determination: Did Mitu Khurana lose as a result of judicial insensitivity?

The Supreme Court dismissed the eight-year-old case filed by the Delhi doctor and mother of twin girls against the accused doctors on a technicality

Last Friday, after a hearing that barely lasted a few minutes, the Supreme Court dismissed Dr Mitu Khurana’s case. It was a bitter end to the Delhi resident’s eight-year-old battle against the doctors who allegedly conducted an ultrasound to illegally determine the sex of her twin daughters, apparently in collusion with her husband and in-laws.

Earlier, in April, the Delhi High Court had quashed the proceedings against the two accused doctors – Dr Harsh Mahajan of Mahajan Imaging, and Dr Nitin Seth, the radiologist who conducted the ultrasound – as it felt the case had exceeded the period of limitations of three years, a stipulation under criminal law.

Khurana’s case, activists said, is a huge setback to the women’s movement against the country’s rapidly declining sex ratio. At last count, according to the 2011 Census, the child sex ratio had declined from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys to 919 girls to 1,000 boys.

How it all started

Khurana’s story began in 2005 when, a year after marriage, she became pregnant. Her doctor husband Kamal Khurana and his relatives, she said, pressed her for an illegal sex determination examination, which she refused to do. They later tortured her and tried to force her to terminate her pregnancy, allegedly on finding out that she was carrying girls.

Sick with stomach pain and nausea – after she was allegedly fed cake with eggs, which she was allergic to – she was admitted to Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi. Here, she underwent an ultrasound examination – without her consent and while heavily sedated, she claimed.

In 2008, she found the ultrasound report and suspected it was actually a sex determination test. She filed a complaint with the National Commission for Women, the health minister and the appropriate authority under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. When no major action was taken, she filed a complaint before a magistrate.

When the magistrate court summoned the accused doctors in 2011, they, in turn, filed a case in the Delhi High Court.

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News India News Mumbai News Supreme Court Delhi: Mitu Khurana loses 11-year fight against sex determination

June 13, 2017

Delhi: Mitu Khurana loses 11-year fight against sex determination

Bringing an end to Khurana’s almost 11-year struggle for justice, the Supreme Court dismissed Dr Mitu Khurana’s petition against the Delhi high court judgement that ruled against her.

A year after a Delhi trial court struck a blow to Dr Mitu Khurana’s hopes, the Supreme Court dismissed her case. In 2008, Dr Khurana filed a case against her husband Dr Kamal Khurana, her mother-in-law and another member of his family, for allegedly colluding with a hospital official to determine the gender of her foetuses while she was pregnant in 2005. Khurana was then pressurised into undergoing an abortion once it was determined she was carrying girls.

On September 16, the Supreme Court dismissed Dr Khurana’s petition against the Delhi high court judgement that ruled against her, reportedly after a five-minute hearing, bringing an end to Khurana’s almost 11-year struggle for justice.

According to dna reports from last year, Khurana, in her petition, alleged that her in-laws “pressured her continually” to determine the sex of the foetuses. When she resisted, they allegedly “tricked her” into being admitted to Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi, where they allegedly conspired with doctors to get a sex determination test done.

In her complaint, Khurana said her in-laws fed her cake with egg, which she is allergic to, making her ill.

According to lawyer Anu Narula, who interacted with the media along with Khurana on Tuesday, the high court judgement, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, is “erroneous and full of oversight”. Narula told dna the high court dismissed Khurana’s case on two counts. It was barred by limitation as according to law, a case has to be filed under the PCPNDT Act either three years from the date of offence or from that of knowledge.

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The fight goes on…. So that our daughters may live long

April 5, 2017

From Sakhi April 2017 issue

Justice for Dr Mitu Khurana ~ Petition

October 27, 2016

Justice for Dr Mitu Khurana Petition

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Dr Mitu Khurana is a doctor. Her parents are also doctors and she comes from a respected, educated family. Dr Mitu Khurana has been fighting against the discrimination towards her daughters and harassment towards her by her in laws. Dr Mitu Khurana is perhaps the first woman in India to have filed a complaint under P.N.D.T Act against Her husband, in-laws and others who deceived her into the sex determination test.

Dr Mitu Khurana has been fighting for 8 years now. When Dr Mitu Khurana started her fight, perhaps she thought that there are women friendly laws, and women friendly courts… that our country and judiciary is doing so much to ensure a just society for the discriminated half of the society. Her struggle has been documented by various national and international media and is very much in public domain. Dr Mitu Khurana`s story coverage in media encouraged and will continue to encourage other women to come forward and say no to female feticide and save their daughters.

The amount of evidence which Dr Mitu Khurana had gathered may not be available to many other women who may try to take up the fight…. And still the courts deciding against her based on technical grounds will discourage any woman from coming forward.

Read (and sign) Full Petition