Dr Mitu Khurana is a doctor in India who fears for her children’s lives after repeated attempts by her husband and her in-laws to abort and then kill her daughters (he wanted a son). Dr. Kamal Khurana denies the allegations, but an NGO and other groups have taken up Dr. Mitu’s case. Her case has been extensively covered in the India media, but it has still not brought her justice or the safety of her daughters. Here is her story in her own words:
I, Mitu Khurana, a pediatrician and mother of twin girls, would like to share my experience in saving my girls from being killed by my husband and in laws while they were in my womb and subsequently after their birth.
I got married to Dr Kamal Khurana in November 2004. Initially, there was a lot of dowry harassment. In January 2005 I became pregnant. An ultrasound showed that I was carrying twins. Then my mother-in-law started demanding that I undergo a sex determination test. I was even tortured to get it done. My husband and in-laws would deny me food and water and fight with me every day to undergo the sex determination tests. I, with full support from my parents, tried resisting it
So my in-laws and husband got it done by deception. Knowing that I was allergic to eggs, they fed me cake made with eggs, all the while assuring me it was eggless. I developed allergic manifestations — stomachache, loose motions and vomiting. I was taken to the hospital.
My mother-in-law asked me many times to at least get one child killed in-utero. I was kept without food and water. My husband who began ignoring me even turned me out of the house at 10:00 one night and asked me to go to my fatherâ€™s house. When I asked him to let me take my mobile and car keys as I did not want to be stranded at night at this stage of pregnancy, he said “is ghar se kisi cheez ko haath lagaya to thapar parega (if you take anything from this house, I will slap you)”. My father-in-law intervened and asked my husband to let me stay the night, and in the morning I could be sent to my parents.
My mother-in- law even told me that my two daughters would be a big burden on the family and I should get them aborted. If not both, she said get at least one aborted. When I refused she said at least give one of them for adoption. After three incidents where they tried to compel me to abort and misbehaved with me, my father took me to his house.
Mine was a lonely battle to give birth to the twins in my womb. After finding out that I was to have twin girls, my in- laws and husband seldom accompanied me for antenatal tests or hospital visits. My mother would accompany me for all my tests etc. My husband would frequently fight with me. He even demanded that a D.N.A should be conducted to establish the paternity of the twins because his mother had been told by some priest her son would have just one son. As I was carrying two daughters, he said they could not be his children.
I pointed out to my mother-in-law, that it was the fatherâ€™s sperms that are responsible for sex of the babies. Her reply was that my fault was that I was not ready to abort them. Due all the tension, I delivered two-pre term daughters on August 11 2005. For nine days after the birth of my twins, my in-laws never visited me. Then my in-laws came. They said “God forbid, we ever become buas of girls again” .My mother-in-law said, “They were born in the seventh month so they are not going to survive anyway”.
I tried many times to go back to my in-lawsâ€™ house. However, there was a lot of verbal abuse and I had no help in looking after the children. My mother-in-law even deliberately pushed down my 4-month-old daughter from the staircase and pretended it was an accident. Fortunately I was able to hold her carry cot and save her from harm. They never showed any love or affection towards them.
Though I had complained to the police station during my pregnancy about the sex determination test conducted and the pressure to have an abortion, I had requested them not to take any action as I thought that my in-laws would come around and accept my daughters.
In March 2008, my husband threw me out in the middle of the night, and asked me for a mutual consent divorce, because he wanted to remarry and have sons. It was during this visit to my matrimonial house, that I came across the discharge papers, and reports of ultrasounds done during my pregnancy (those papers had been always in the custody of my husband).
COMPLAINT UNDER PC-PNDT ACT AND ATTITUDE OF THE AUTHORITIES.
On April 10 2008, I filed a complaint to the Womenâ€™s Commissions, the health minister, and various N.G.Os. On May 9 2008, I filed a complaint. On June 5, I got reply to a RTI application that the Central Monitoring Committee along with District Appropriate Authority (NORTH WEST DELHI) had raided the hospital on 3rd June 2008, and again I got a reply from District Appropriate Authority that during raid it was found that no form F was filed.
P.C-P.N.D.T ACT which prohibits sex determination during pregnancy states that â€œPerson conducting ultrasonography on a pregnant women shall keep complete record thereof in the clinic/centre in Form â€“ F and any deficiency or inaccuracy found therein shall amount to contravention of provisions of section 5 or section 6 of the Act, unless contrary is proved by the person conducting such ultrasonography.â€
Here section 5 & section 6 states- 5. Written consent of pregnant woman and prohibition of communicating the sex of fetus. (1) No person referred to in clause (2) of section 3 shall conduct the pre-natal diagnostic procedures unless (a) He has explained all known side and after effects of such procedures to the pregnant woman concerned.
Yet still no action was taken. When my case was highlighted in the media, I got a letter from District Appropriate Authority asking me to appear before them and express my views. I went to meet the C.D.M.O and asked about the value of my statement in this case. I was told that the law needs to be explored. It was also suggested that I should not do anything in an impulsive manner, which I may regret later. I was also told that I should try to reconcile with my husband. I was also asked the benefit I would get if the ultrasound machine was sealed. I was told the ultrasound machine was a very useful tool for diagnosis and someone could suffer if it was sealed.
I pointed out to the C.D.M.O that his statement that I should try to reconcile with my husband, and the wish for a son was not something I could not fulfill, as I could always get pregnant again, implied that he was encouraging me to undergo sex determination test should I get pregnant again. It also implied that he considers women as baby producing machines who must go on producing children till they manage to produce a son. No answer has been given about why the foetal ultrasound was done in the first place, when it was never asked for. In the meantime all my letters went unanswered.
I filed a private case under P.C-PNDT act in November 2008. In January 2009, the appropriate authority also filed a case against Jaipur Golden Hospital. Now both cases are pending in the court. Dr Kiran Walia, minister for health and family welfare, had the case reopened once she came into power. She also saw to it that the CDMO handling my case is changed. I am thankful to her for the support she has given me.
I am still facing harassment from all quarters to withdraw my cases. Every authority, be it in the police, the judiciary, or the hospital where I was working, are trying to force me to withdraw my cases. It was due to this harassment and certain threats that I had to leave my job recently.
Even a High Court Judge has suggested that I should try to reconcile with my husband. When asked what he meant by reconciling, he said that I should try to live with my husband. I pointed out to him: â€˜I and my daughters will be killed the day I move in with my husband.â€™ The judge said if I do not want to live with my husband I could divorce him through mutual consent. I said that I would do this if the Hindu divorce law was amended and enabled a man to divorce his wife if she fails to provide him a son. My mistake according to my husband and in-laws is only that I conceived daughters and refused to abort them. Now the court has taken cognizance against hospital, my in laws and husband suddenly want the custody of the children.
My daughters will be killed the day they go their grandparents. Please help me save my daughters.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,India,Sex equality