Mitu’s Story: Tortured for having Twin Girls
Mitu’s story is significant in light of India’s systematic annihilation of millions of its daughters. Mitu first posted her story on 50 Million Missing’sdiscussion/support forum. (For the discussion forum click here.) She said:
The day after my engagement my sister in law sent me an SMS saying that she hates me. I had hardly ever interacted with her. On the third day after my marriage, my mother in law told me that they never liked me, but they agreed to this match as a compromise. According to her the compromise was because of my husband`s increasing age. But now looking back, I wonder was it also because of his addiction to pornography, or other reasons which became clear to me after marriage.. During the period that followed our marriage, I was kept under total house arrest. After I came back from hospital (where I was working), I was not even allowed to go to the local market. My husband used to totally ignore me. In addition, whenever he used to talk to me, it used to be to shout at me for some or other reason.
In the meantime, my mother in law started demanding a Honda city car, a flat , and a permanent place in my father’s clinic for my husband. However, my father being a self-made man never agreed to this. My husband frequently asked me what has he got from marrying me Then they would have given much more to their daughter in dowry. When ever my husband used to abuse me , my mother in law would tell me that I should silently listen to all abuses because I was a woman, and in their house women don’t speak. She also never allowed me to sit with my husband saying that men are allowed to come to their wives only in the night. My husband was addicted to pornography and spent most of his time watching pornography on computer.
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 was 6 months pregnant, her husband pushed her down the stairs so she would miscarry. She began bleeding and that fall caused her twins to be born prematurely. Her mother-in-law was happy that the twins would die. However, they survived and Mitu went to live with her parents. Her inlaws and husband never even came to see the babies. But Mitu wanted to believe that once their father held them, he would grow to love them, so when the babies were a few months old she moved back to her husband’s house. 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 in an attempt to kill her, a fall that the baby 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. Mitu also expressed to our campaign administrators her desire to forgive her husband, and take her daughters back to her husband and in-laws house, but we strongly advised her against it.
Mitu has been lucky that unlike other Indian parents, hers were very supportive of her. It is what has 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.
Then we heard from Mitu that her husband has applied for visitation rights for their twins. We could not understand this. Why would a man who didn’t want these daughters, who tried to compel their mother to abort them, attempted to induce their abortion by inflicting abuse and pushing Mitu down the stairs, who 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?
Mitu explained that this was a pressure tactic to compel her to withdraw her PNDT case. The campaign at that juncture, wanted an independent body to examine the case and the proceedings. We could not understand how the courts would consider giving the custody of the children to the father or compel Mitu to go and stay in her husband’s house. However, Mitu was uncomfortable about outside intervention in a case that she already felt she had no control over.
We currently are not engaged with Mitu’s case. We hear that it is still ongoing. We just hope that whatever the outcome of the case, Mitu’s two girls are not pushed back into a horribly abusive, violent environment where they were unloved and undesired. We believe that every child, girl or boy, must grow up in a home environment where they are deeply loved, desired and nurtured to grow into their full potential as strong and beautiful individuals.