Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Mrs Khurana fight against female foetus discrimination"

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Moving story of fight against female prejudice

Here is a moving email we received from a mother that is fighting the battle against female foeticide in the trenches.

I am a North Indian mother of twin girls and I 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 a highly educated North Indian male in November 2004. Initially, there was a lot of dowry harassment. In January 2005 I became pregnant. A transvaginal ultrasound conducted in the sixth week of pregnancy 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 egg less. I developed allergic manifestations -- stomachache, loose motions and vomiting. The whole night I was left alone. The next morning my husband and mother-in-law took me to a hospital, which was not the one from which I had got my ante natal tests. I was admitted to the labor room. The gynecologist advised kidney, Ureter, bladder ultrasound, but the radiologist conducted a foetal ultrasound and asked me to get up and go. I pointed out to him, that the gynecologist had ordered a K.U.B. So than the radiologist again asked me to lie down and did the K.U.B examination.


After this incident my husband and in laws started demanding that I get an M.T.P. 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 o’clock one night and asked me to go to my father’s house. He said "ja aapne baap ke ghar ja.” 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.


On 17 May 2005, after I was subjected to a lot of verbal abuse, I started bleeding at night and there was danger of abortion. I was not even allowed to call up my parents for medical help. I survived the night and managed to call my father in the morning. After much persuasion by my father, my husband agreed to take me to the nursing home. But he drove rashly from Rohini to the nursing home in Janakpuri.


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. Even in my parents’ house he would 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 father’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 sister-in-laws, my mother-in-law, and my father- in-law came to visit me. One of my aunts congratulated my sisters-in -law. 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". My younger daughter stayed in the nursery for almost one month. Since my in-laws did not pay the hospital bills, my parents paid them.


I tried many times to go back to my in-laws house. However, there was a lot of verbal abuse; I had no help in looking after children. There was no love or respect for children or me. I was not even sure my children and I would be safe there. 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.


The children’s paternal grandparents & aunts have rejected them totally. I tried for full three years that my husband and in-laws accept my daughters, because I wanted to give my daughters a stable home.

Though I had complained to the police station during my pregnancy about the sex determination test conducted and the pressure to have an M.T.P, I had requested them not to take any action as I thought they 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 Women’s Commissions, the health minister, and various N.G.Os. On May 9 2008, I filed a complaint in the P.N.D.T cell.

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 filled. (Which is true-it was never filled).

P.C-P.N.D.T ACT which prohibits sex determination during pregnancy states “Person conducting ultrasonography on a pregnant women shall keep complete record thereof in the clinic/centre in Form – 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.”

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

(b) He has obtained in the prescribed form her written consent to undergo such procedures in the language which she understands and (c) A copy of her written consent obtained under clause b is given to the pregnant woman.

(2) No person conducting pre-natal diagnostic procedures shall communicate to the pregnant woman concerned or her relatives the sex of the fetus by words, signs or in any other manner.

Section 6. Determination of sex prohibited.- On and from the commencement of this Act,--(a) No Genetic Counseling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic shall conduct or cause to be conducted in its Centre, Laboratory or Clinic, pre-natal diagnostic techniques including ultrasonography, for the purpose of determining the sex of a fetus;

(b) No person shall conduct or cause to be conducted any pre-natal diagnostic techniques including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of a fetus.


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 along with a friend 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 repent later. I was also told 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. 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.


Lastly I was advised to inform the office, in case of resettlement with my husband, so that the doctors are not troubled. Though it has been established that the gynecologist had asked only for K.U.B., and a detailed foetal ultrasound has been done, no form F has been filled. I was tortured during pregnancy to abort the babies, still no action was taken.


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 to central and state PNDT department 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 againstJaipur 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. 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 my workplace, 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: ‘I and my daughters will be killed the day I move in with my husband.’ 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 as a retaliatory legal tactic. My daughters will be killed the day they go their grandparents and this is causing me enormous stress and anxiety.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

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