This is an emergency situation! We are rallying public support for Dr. Mitu Khurana’s legal fight to protect her 5-year old twin girls from their father. Her case is outlined below. Please sign her petition and circulate it. A copy will be sent to the appropriate offices in Delhi as evidence of public support for her case.
Click here for the petition. Mitu first posted her story on 50 Million Missing’s discussion/support forum about 2 years ago. This is the link for her case where we kept supporters updated on her situation. The relevance of Mitu’s case is monumental in light of India’s systematic annihilation of millions of its daughters.
Within the first few months of her marriage when Mitu was pregnant with twins, her husband and his family colluded with the hospital to secretly determine the gender of the fetuses. They were told she was expecting girls. Her husband and in-laws thereafter started pressurizing her to have an abortion. While it is routine for pregnant women to undergo ultrasound, it is illegal for doctors and hospitals in India to reveal the sex of the fetus during these tests. Despite this law, called the PC&PNDT (Pre-Conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Test), it is estimated that in India more than a million potential daughters are selectively eliminated before birth each year, sometimes late in the pregnancy so the family can be sure that they are getting rid of a daughter and not a precious son!
Mitu’s case also challenges the assumption that it is poverty and lack of education that is driving this daughter-annihilation. Like Mitu, her husband too is a medical doctor, from a well-do family, and various other members from his family are also doctors! In deed the largest gender ratio gap in India is among the educated, well-to-do, middle and upper classes. It is not that they cannot afford to raise girls, they just don’t want girls!
Mitu’s case is not unique. Thousands of young, married Indian women are tortured, tormented, and forced into aborting their daughters, often late in the pregnancy, at great risk to their own health and lives. Mitu however refused to submit. Thereupon, her husband and mother-in-law subject her to various forms of abuse to induce an abortion.
When Mitu eventually gave birth to the twins, she believed that once their father held them in his arms, he would certainly fall in love with them. But he hardly showed any interest in his children, and seemed unmoved even when his mother kicked one of babies down the stairs at four months, a fall that she survived only because she was strapped to her cradle. At that point Mitu moved with her babies into her parents’ house.
For the last 4 years Mitu’s parents have been her rock. They have whole-heartedly supported her in her fight for justice and have provided a loving, stable and safe home for their grand-daughters. Their support has been critical in light of the fact that women in Mitu’s situation in India, often don’t find much support or sympathy from society and even their own parents. On the contrary, they face tremendous rejection from family and society, and there is much pressure on them to return to the husband’s house and learn to live with it. Even the doctors, and officials Mitu met from police and government offices, as she tried to file a PNDT case, advised her to stop kicking up a fuss, make amends with her husband and in-laws, and try to give them a son.
Feeling cornered, isolated and alone, Mitu would sometimes waver. Were people right in saying that she was being selfish and depriving her daughters of their father? Would her daughters really dislike her for separating them from him when they grew up? Would she and her daughters have to live with this over-whelming rejection from society for the rest of their lives?
But Mitu’s parents were resolute in their stand on what was the right thing for her to do, and that was what kept Mitu going. It also gave her the strength to fight on, to file her PNDT case, and where other women in her situation have been rebuffed and silenced by a overwhelmingly corrupt and bureaucratic system, Mitu became the first woman in India to file a case under the PNDT law – a feat that was recorded in the Limca book of Records.
Currently, Mitu’s husband has applied for visitation rights for their twins. Why would a man who didn’t want these daughters, tried to compel their mother to abort them, attempted to induce their abortion by inflicting abuse, stood by indifferently when his mother tried to murder one of his babies by kicking her down the stairs, who showed no attachment towards his children as they grew up in their maternal grandparents’ house, and has provided no support for them, financially or otherwise, suddenly decide he wants visitation rights? And why would the judge compel Mitu to bring her little girls to court for every hearing, even if it means taking them out of school?
Could there be any doubt that this is a pressure tactic to compel Mitu to withdraw her PNDT case? Mitu feels helpless about being forced to take her 5- years-olds into a court house environment. And she feels terrified about the prospect of their father having access to them. It is an arm-twisting tactic that could work and force her to eventually withdraw her case just to ensure her daughters’ safety. This is unconscionable and must not be allowed.
We thank Bijayalakshmi Nanda, Prof. Ash Pachauri and his students who have been an invaluable and consistent source of local support for Mitu in Delhi. Thank you also, to everyone else on The 50 Million Missing discussion forum who have kept up with Mitu’s case, frequently posting clippings from news and media that they have seen. And we appeal to everyone reading this post to please sign this petition supporting Mitu’s plea to the court that her children be not forced into court for every hearing, and that their father be not given visitation rights.