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Acting Against Female Foeticide (op-ed)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein reflect only the views of the author and do not represent the opinions of the South Asian Awareness Network (SAAN) or any other organization.

Foeticide: it has become an epidemic within India. The killing of baby girls has become a culturally accepted ritual by many Indian citizens. This patriarchal culture sees men and boys as greater and of more worth than women and girls, who are seen merely as individuals of domestic and labor work. While many Indians are strongly influenced by their culture, as times have progressed, modern beliefs have infiltrated India, spurring change within the cultural system. 

Mitu Khurana, young Indian lady, recently became pregnant with twin girls. After hearing this news, her husband and in-laws pressured her to abort the babies. She disagreed; however, they further pled with her to abort these children. While many women do succumb to their in-laws and male counterparts’ wishes to abort their female baby, this woman took a stand and refused to do such thing. Culturally, Indian women are expected to respect and follow the commands of their husbands and in-laws. Whether it be making chai, running to the grocery store, or washing clothes, it is common in Indian households to see the woman take on a domestic role, while their husbands are seen as the heads of the household, bringing home the money to support the family. However, Mitu Khurana went against this cultural assumption, and took on a role of dominance and refused to abort her babies. In attempts to force her into aborting/putting the babies at risk of bad health, her husband and in-laws starved her and denied her water and later, kicked her out of the house. However, she still refused to abort the babies and decided to turn to the law to receive proper justice for this issue. 

While many women in India are accustomed to such torture and pressure to abort their female babies, Mitu Khurana saw that this practice has unjust and fought to stop it. Rather than fighting this fight alone, she turned to the law. However, the government responded to her plea saying that the “law needs to be explored”. Even the Indian Government was hesitant to take a stand against such a horrid practice. To this day, foeticide is still occurring and women like Mitu Khurana stand few and weak attempting to end such a practice. Without the law on their sides, they need to rally a larger group to make any attempt to gain legal recognition. Until then, however, women like Ms. Khurana will either be shunned from their families if they choose to keep their babies or, will have to fall weak to their husband and in-laws’ wishes and abort their babies. Change can be made, however, it takes numbers and motivation and right now, Indian culture and its patriarchal ways is silencing many women from standing up for their rights.

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Shalvinder Kaur is a junior at the University of Michigan and chair of the South Asian Awareness Network’s Media committee.

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