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'I underwent 10 abortions'

'My husband forced me to have 10 abortions'

india Updated: Jun 09, 2006 03:02 IST
Megha Sood

Dhanvanti More, mother of four girls, was forced to undergo 10 abortions over 23 years because her husband Ramchandra, a bar owner in Grant Road, wanted a son.

Dhanvanti, 55, realised only last year that her husband — in his desperation to have a son — had remarried 21 years ago, soon after the birth of their fourth daughter Meghna.

A resident of Grant Road, Dhanvanti says that each time she got pregnant, her husband would take her for a sonography to establish the sex of the foetus. “After my eldest daughter Ulka was born in 1977, he started harassing me. I never retaliated because I come from a very poor family,” Dhanvanti told HT. “But he left me to remarry for a son.”

Shattered that her husband had not only put her through the trauma of multiple abortions but also cheated on her, Dhanvanti filed a complaint with Nagpada police in April this year.

On Tuesday, Ramchandra was produced in court and remanded in police custody till June 15. The police have charged him with harassment and voluntarily causing miscarriage. They believe some unscrupulous doctors were helping the Mores in abortion and sex determination — banned under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) and the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994.

While the laws against sex-determination have become stronger since a revision in the PNDT Act in 2001, errant doctors have only become more careful in ensuring that they don’t get caught.

Mumbai may have a per capita income of Rs 48, 954 (three times more than the national average) compared to Haryana’s per capita income of Rs 14,331. But the sex ratio in both Haryana — infamous for female infanticide — and Mumbai is not too disparate. While Haryana has 861 females for every 1,000 men, south Mumbai’s sex ratio at 886 female per 1000 males is not favourable either, according to the municipal corporation’s ward-wise break-up.

Clearly, economic prosperity does not suppress the urge to have a male child. “Even the most affluent families come to me expressing their desire to have a male child,” says Dr Duru Shah, president of the Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of India.

While the desire for a male child cuts across socio-economic classes and communities, doctors say Punjabis, Marwaris and Sindhis are particularly guilty of this unwelcome social phenomenon. “The reasons for this obsession with the male child is that most people want someone to carry the name forward, someone to care for them through old age and light the funeral pyre,” says Shah.

Dhanvanti is determined to get justice for the torture and trauma Ramchandra has caused her.

“We will question the clinics or hospital whether the sonographies and abortions were conducted,” R.B. Katdare, senior inspector, DB Marg police station, said. “We are also investigating whether Dhanvanti’s allegations are genuine,” he added.