New Delhi: Her doctor husband forced Ritu Kumar, a physician herself, to go for a sex determination test and her academician in-laws pushed her to abort the two female foetuses inside her or at least kill one of them. But she still went ahead and gave birth to twin girls.
That was two-and-a-half years back. Ritu (name changed) and the twins were thrown out of their home in west Delhi. But the fight that began with two unborn children is far from over. “I am facing a lot of hardships. My husband has thrown me out of home. But still I am proud of what I have done. I am proud to have saved my daughters,” said Ritu, who lives in the national capital. Nearly one million female foetuses are aborted every year in India — a country known for its male preference — which means over 2,700 girls die every day before even seeing the light of day. But thanks to Ritu, at least two girls have got a chance to live. Ritu got married in 2004. Both she and her husband are doctors and her in-laws are well-educated.
“We came to know that I was carrying twin babies. Then my mother-in-law started demanding sex determination. They got that done by force. Then they started demanding that I get an MTP (medical termination of pregnancy). They asked me many times to at least get one child killed in utero,” Ritu, 33, says. Ritu alleges that her mother-in-law told her that “two daughters would be a big burden on them”. She accuses her husband of verbally abusing her and claims that she was virtually put under house arrest when she decided to disobey their diktat on the female foetuses.
Now she is living with her 72-year-old father, who is also a doctor, along with her children. “I am living only because of my daughters,” said Ritu, her eyes brimming with tears. But she often feels scared. “I am scared! They want to kill me. They have deployed detectives to record my activities. But, for the sake of my children, I have not filed a police case against my husband and my in-laws,” she said. “I have informed the Delhi Commission for Women and taken legal counselling from a high court lawyer. I have also availed myself of counselling from the Navjyoti Counselling Centre of Kiran Bedi. “But I have requested all of them not to initiate action against my husband and in-laws. I want to give my husband another chance as my children need their father,” Kumar says.
Pragya Routray, a high court lawyer in Delhi, who has counselled Ritu and her husband, said: “It’s a serious case. Her husband can be charged with forced sex selection, pressurising her to go for female foeticide and, above all, domestic violence.
“But the problem is she wants to reconcile with her husband for the sake of their kids. On the one hand she is scared of the man and on the other she wants to give him another chance,” Routray says. Bijayalaxmi Nanda, an activist working against female foeticide who has also been counselling Ritu, said like any other Indian woman she wants to give her husband one more chance but a “reconciliation sounds very unlikely”.
“They don’t trust each other. The man has been torturing her for so many years and even threw her out of home. I think this should be the last chance for the man. He may be in a noble profession (medical practitioner) but he is not behaving like a good human being,” said Nanda, a professor at Miranda House college.
Ritu said she is worried about her children’s future. “I am not working anywhere, as I am not in a good psychological condition.”I tried to shift out with my husband, but I started receiving threatening calls that my daughters and I would be murdered if I did not divorce my husband,” she added.