Doctor fights India’s culture of gendercide in ultrasound case
NEW DELHI, India, December 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – India’s silent war on unborn girls in the womb is being highlighted by a courageous doctor who claims that her husband pressured her to abort her daughters after an illegal ultrasound revealed their gender.
Having seen her case thrown out for lack of evidence in September after a preliminary hearing, Dr. Mitu Khurana, now 39 and a hospital administrator in New Delhi, talked with LifeSiteNews Friday about her appeal to a higher court to consider her charge against her husband, Dr. Kemal Khurana.
She claims that he arranged for an illegal ultrasound to discover the gender of her unborn children a decade ago, an act prohibited by 1994 legislation. The prohibition is so widely flouted that, according to UNICEF 7,000 girls were aborted each day in India up to 2005.
“I am doing this so that my daughters grow up in a world where they do not have to face the violence that I faced,” Dr. Khurana told LifeSiteNews. “I have been blessed by God with supportive parents who I now live with. But many parents just tell their daughters to stay with their husbands’ families and make the best of it. So I do this for social change.”
Dr. Khurana alleges that when she got pregnant in 2005, her in-laws soon began to hint at abortion. “They began saying, ‘Two will be a burden,’ but I did not immediately understand quite what they meant. I didn’t know I was carrying girls or that they did,” she said in an earlier interview.
Later, she said, her husband admitted that when she went to hospital with kidney pains, which he may have induced by poisoning her, he arranged for an ultrasound test that determined that her twins were both girls. Both he and the hospital deny the charge, claiming that the tests were routine under the circumstance – a claim a lower court has clearly accepted, as it dismissed Dr. Khurana’s accusations. “It was completely one-sided. The judges, the lawyers the police, they all think this [gender selection] is completely acceptable,” she told LifeSiteNews.
Her accusations go beyond the claim that the 1994 law banning sex-selection ultrasounds was breached, including 11 legal actions. Dr. Khurana claims that her husband (one of those cases is her pending divorce suit) not only pressured her to abort her daughters, but assaulted her (and them) by pushing her down a stairway, then locking her in a room for a day to prevent her getting medical help. Her complaints to police were met with indifference.
Ultimately, her girls were born a month prematurely and are now 10 years old.
Along with her firsthand claims, the lower court also ignored a statement from her husband’s counsellor that he had admitted to securing the illegal sex-selection ultrasound. The law making this illegal is the Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques (regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, which bans ultrasound testing for the purpose of gender selection by abortion. The penalties range from a fine of anywhere from $200 to $1,000 to imprisonment for the doctor for up to five years.
Ten years after it was passed, Dr. Khurana filed the first ever complaint under the PNDT Act from a woman, even though some crusaders against gender-selection abortion estimate that 12 million unborn girls were aborted during that period. Others estimate 50 million as the total death toll since ultrasound gender determination came into use in the 1980s.
According to the Population Research Institute’s Stephen Mosher, Indian gendercide is especially acute among the nation’s middle class, which allow 800 girls to be born to every 1,000 males (the overall ratio is 927:1,000). “The lowest recorded number of girls is found in some high-caste areas urban areas of Punjab, where only 300 girls per 1,000 boys survive gestation,” states Mosher.
Only illegal use of ultrasound could account for these numbers, claims Dr. Khurana.
In a letter posted on her blog in October, Dr. Khurana blamed her lack of success with police and the judiciary on “the extreme patriarchal authority attitude of all authorities supposed to help women like me, who want to go against their families and save their daughters.”
Dr. Khurana told LifeSiteNews that the bias against girls had many causes, such as the dowry system and the presumption that sons rather than daughters bear the responsibility to care for their aging parents.
She joins many social critics attributing India’s high rate of crimes against women to the gender imbalance. Dr. Khurana told LifeSiteNews, “The studies show it: because men outnumber women, there is more violence, more rape, more sex trafficking, [and] more polyandry.” A Nov. 4 article in the Irish Times on the issue was tellingly headlined “India—Land of 100 rapes a day.”
Adds Mosher, it is also the land of forced abortion. “There is far more coercion involved in abortions than people think, from parents, from the boyfriend, the husband, and especially in India, where there is a strong preference for sons. Many women there are forced to have abortions.”