Indian doctor fights landmark case to highlight girl deficit
Indian doctor alleges husband tricked her into having ultrasound to reveal sex of her children
An Indian paediatrician who has accused her husband of tricking her into revealing the sex of her unborn girl twins and then allegedly pressurising her into aborting them is waging a landmark legal battle over the case at India’s high court.
Mitu Khurana, a 39-year old doctor from Delhi, refused to abort the two girls and has become a cause celebre for campaigners against sex-selective abortions that have reached “emergency” levels in parts of India.
In the first case of its kind, Dr Khurana is taking legal action against her husband who she claims asked doctors to take a surreptitious ultra-sound of her unborn twins while she was in hospital in 2004 suffering from a stomach complaint.
“If, despite all the evidence I have, the accused are allowed to escape then no other women will ever try to prosecute for this type of crime,” Mrs Khurana told The Sunday Telegraph.
“Ultrasounds in India always happen behind closed doors because every doctor knows it’s a crime and will never give the results in writing. If I lose this case it will close the door to any women who want to file complaints in the future”.
Her husband, Dr Kamal Khurana, has vehemently denied the allegations which are the first of their kind to be brought under a law that prohibits the gender testing of foetuses which was introduced in 1994 to curb the endemic practice of aborting girls.
The preference for boys over girls in India for both economic and social reasons has led to dangerously skewed gender ratios, with one study estimating that some 12 million Indian girls had been aborted over the last 30 years.
Last year the United Nations noted that the dwindling number of Indian girls had reached “emergency proportions” and was contributing to violent sex crimes against women.
An organization in Delhi recently investigated 89 hospitals around the capital and unveiled giant sex discrepancies in birth rates. One clinic was found to have delivered just 285 girls for every 1,000 boys over the last year.
Mrs Khurana’s case, which was recently thrown out by a lower court due to lack of evidence, implicates her husband, Kamal, and the Jaipur Golden Hospital.
According to the court papers, Mrs Khurana alleges she was taken to hospital after having an allergic reaction to some food.
After being given strong painkillers and sedatives, Mrs Khurana alleges that her husband took her to have a kidney scan and, while she was sedated, colluded with hospital staff to carry out an illegal gender test on her unborn twins.
Mrs Khurana claims that from the moment she was discharged from hospital, her husband began to pressurize her to get an abortion, at times violently.
“The petitioner was subjected to cruelty and violence by her husband and in-laws on various counts,” said court documents, alleging that Mr Khurana once pushed his wife causing her to fall down the stairs.
Mrs Khurana added that the fall prompted her to develop pain in the abdomen and, when that she requested medical help, her husband confined her to a room with “the intention to induce abortion”.
Mrs Khurana’s parents took her to hospital the following morning where she rested for four days. Her twins, Guddu and Pari, were eventually born prematurely at thirty one weeks’ gestation and are now 10 years old.
Mr Khurana refused to comment on the case. The hospital has accused Mrs Khurana of dragging them into a marital row, saying that they did nothing more than carry out a routine scan of her abdomen and kidneys which did not comprise an illegal gender test.