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Dr Mitu Khurana is a mother who fought to prevent her twin daughters from being aborted and for their right to be accepted as valued individuals.
Gender testing in India is illegal by law under the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act of 1994. Despite this, an estimated half-a-million female foetuses are terminated each year. This is mass extermination of girls, leading to a massive gap in female births per 1000 births – so many missing women! This has given rise to concerns about the negative impact this has on Indian society. There are a number of villages in India where there are no women at all. And men from these villages are resorting to desperate measures like ‘importing brides’ from the other states in the country.
A country that on one hand believes in ‘Kanya Puja‘, doesn’t even cringe when they kill their own daughters on the other. Some might argue that this ‘desire’ for a male heir is endemic in the low income groups. However, it is alarming to know that this ‘mass murder’ of girls is not cloistered to the lower class only. In fact this culture of female foeticide is more rampant within the so called educated and upper middle class society who can be safely written off as the ‘privileged class’.
Dr Mitu Khurana, is one such woman from the ‘privileged class’, a mother and a paediatrician herself who is making legal history. She took her husband to court for illegally procuring a gender test during her pregnancy and subsequently pressurizing her to have the twin foetuses aborted.
Her story is a shocking yet distressing proof that exposes the shameful prejudice that the Indian society has against female children; a culture that permeates all levels of the Indian society. This case is also a classic testimony to the great love that a mother has for her children and how she can rise above her own fears to protect them.
The torture on Dr Mitu Khurana started right from the very first day of her marriage. The torture worsened as the family learnt that she was carrying twins saying they couldn’t afford to raise two children at a time. The bid for knowing the gender of the foetuses crept in and the pressure on Dr Mitu increased considerably day by day.
As this mother refused to give in to the demands, the in-laws resorted to more devious means to find out the sex of the foetuses. On the pretext of getting a kidney scan, the gender of the foetuses was determined. The news of having female foetuses was like the final nail in the coffin of the marriage.
Dr Mitu’s husband and in-laws tried their level best to kill the girls yet they failed. A mother’s resolve and her love for her children, irrespective of the gender, is way more stronger than it is presumed. A quiet Dr Mitu Khurana rose like a phoenix from the ashes, not caring about her fears, and set out in an interminable battle against her husband and in-laws, for justice for herself and her daughters.
Recently, Union Woman and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi suggested that child sex determination during pregnancy should be made compulsory. The gender of the child should be registered and monitored right from the very beginning. Whenever a family tries to abort a girl child, the system cracks down on them.
The idea might be brilliant, but in a vast country like ours, that is corrupt & patriarchal to the core, the practicality and feasibility of this suggestion is heavily shrouded in doubts. Before tracking down the errant ones, we need to put in place a system that will, with all honesty, monitor the health of both the mother & child not only till the delivery but also after it for at least the next 5 years, because the girl child is more vulnerable in the first five years of her life.
Watch her story on video here.
Dr. Mitu Khurana continues her fight for justice for her daughters even after so many years and raises them in her parent’s home. She is also a prominent activist against female foeticide in India, attempting to bring these horrific practices to an end.
Her daughters are blessed to have a such courageous mother who loves them so deeply, not only because they are girls or despite it, but because they are her children.
Image source: Dr Mitu Khurana’s blog.
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