The face of gendercide

A month ago, I posted (“Gen XY and the war on women”) on 163 million missing girls and women, aborted specifically because they were female.

But 163 million is such a hard number to get your mind around.

I could tell you that if you put 30 little girls in a classroom, put that classroom in a school of fifty classrooms, each filled with thirty little girls, and put that school in a district of 50 schools that size, it would take 2,173 of those school districts to accommodate all those girls.

I could tell you that last summer the U.S. Census Bureau was forecasting that, by comparison, we would have a mere 55.5 million children enrolled in pre-K through 12th grade in this country in 2011-2012.

Or I can introduce you to Dr. Mitu Khurana, 35, a New Delhi pediatrician and the mother of six-year-old twin girls.

Mitu Khurana holding her baby girls 2005

Mitu Khurana with her daughters, 2005

When she was six weeks pregnant, Dr. Khurana learned that she was carrying twins. Her husband and parents-in-law immediately began pressuring her to get an ultrasound to learn the sex of the babies. Dr. Khurana refused. (Though widely practiced, sex determination during an ultrasound is illegal in India, because of their epidemic of sex-selection abortions: More than 700 babies are aborted in India each day simply because they are female.)

Dr. Khurana says her brother-in-law then brought her a cake made with eggs, to which she is allergic. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was seen–though brought in with an allergic reaction, and only 16 weeks pregnant–by a gynecologist. In a delivery room. The doctor ordered an ultrasound of her kidney, which determined that she was carrying girls.

The pressure to have an abortion intensified. And once she was home, Dr. Khurana says, her husband and parents-in-law began depriving her of food, hoping to make her miscarry. She eventually fled to her parents’ house, and later gave birth to her daughters.

Her husband and parents-in-law then began pressuring her to put the babies up for adoption. She refused. When they were four months old, her mother-in-law threw one of them down the stairs.

Dr. Khurana eventually left her husband and parents-in-law, taking her daughters with her, and filed suit against them, the gynecologist, and the hospital, under India’s Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. The suit alleges that her husband and his parents illegally determined the sex of her twins, pressured her to abort them and, when that didn’t work, tried to kill them. She is the first and so far the only person to press charges under the 18-year-old law.

Since then, her in-laws have taken her to court, seeking joint custody of her children, and her husband has been awarded visitation rights–despite the fact that he showed no interest in the girls until Dr. Khurana filed her legal complaint.

Here’s an Elizabeth Vargas interview with Dr. Khurana on ABC’s 20/20 last December. It’s about three minutes long.

Here is Dr. Khurana’s blog.

The twins are now six. Dr. Khurana’s case has been in the court system for four years and counting, with no resolution in sight. One judge advised her simply to reconcile with the woman who threw her baby daughter down the stairs. 

And Dr. Khurana is still struggling to bring her situation to the world’s attention, in order to pressure Indian authorities to enforce their own law.  But she’s not getting much traction. The powerful organizations one would expect to champion her cause . . . haven’t.

The United Nations Population Fund has mounted a huge international campaign against female genital mutilation, but has no official stance on female genocide a quarter century after the epidemic began. The World Health Organization? Nada. The United States’ National Organization for Women? Zilch. A very strange silence from organizations promoting women’s health and rights.

That leaves it up to individuals who support women’s health and women’s rights.

Like you and me.

Can you type your name? Here and here are petitions Dr. Khurana has begun. (I warn you, they’re not glossy and visually sophisticated, and they don’t have a lot of signatures. But they’ll have one more after you sign.) And here is a female genocide petition sponsored by India’s 50 Million Missing Campaign.

Do you Facebook? Talk about Dr. Khurana–and challenge your friends to talk about her, too.

Do you blog? Blog about Dr. Khurana, and challenge your readers who blog to do the same.

163. Million. Women. Gone.

Nobody can save all the beached starfish. But each of us can toss one or two back into the water.

Let’s give it our best shot.

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