The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Son-struck Mother India
- Wife tortured & forced to abort six times, all for a boy

Koba (Gandhinagar), July 28: For every celebrated token of women’s empowerment like the first female President and every Kiran Bedi who complains of being passed over, there’s a Sunita and a Kajal in Mother India’s son-struck, conveyor-belt child factories.

Sunita Rajput, 27, has alleged she was forced by her husband to have six abortions in nine years of marriage because each time she had conceived a girl.

In between the abortions, the mother of two girls from Vadodara says, husband Rajesh would drive nails into her earlobes, starve her and beat her.

The man apparently didn’t spare even his “second wife”, 22-year-old Kajal, whom he married 14 months ago by pretending to be single because he desperately wanted a boy.

When Kajal delivered a girl 40 days ago — the recent “save the girl” campaign had made foetal sex tests riskier — Rajesh punished her, too.

“He made me drink his urine twice,” said Kajal.

The torture didn’t end for Sunita, though.

“When I refused to get a seventh abortion (she’s seven months pregnant), he tried to do it himself by kicking me in the stomach,” Sunita said at the Kasturba Gandhi Trust here, where she and Kajal arrived with their daughters four days ago after slipping out of their home in Padra near Vadodara, 160 km away.

Their story is the latest in a series of domestic-torture tales pouring out of Gujarat’s underbelly since Pooja Chauhan, 22, decided to walk the streets of Rajkot in her underwear on July 5 to protest harassment by her husband and in-laws.

Unlike 26-year-old Riya Lodhia, “inspired” by that act to fight back six years after her in-laws threw her out, Sunita and Kajal haven’t heard of Pooja.

Nor even of her namesake, Pooja Salot, 32, who has filed a complaint after being forced to abort two female foetuses in 11 years of marriage.

Unlike Salot, Sunita has no medical proof of her abortions. Doctors said it’s possible for a woman to conceive in about three months after an abortion, which are usually done within 10 or 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“Repeated abortions can lead to injury to the uterus, menstrual disturbances, infections and sometimes infertility,” warned Kanika Jain, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in Delhi.

Sunita said her first three abortions were carried out after the birth of her elder daughter, who is now seven. The second daughter, now five, escaped because it had got too late for an abortion. But three more abortions followed.

This evening, Rajesh, 32, was arrested with his two brothers, so he could not be contacted. Sunita’s police complaint also names her mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law. Officers said Rajesh, a hakim who sells ayurvedic and herbal medicines on the roadside, “isn’t co-operating”.

“Recently he beat us for two days and denied us food. That’s when we decided to escape,” Kajal said.

An auto-rickshaw driver they met on the way to Vadodara advised them to go to the Kasturba Gandhi Trust, a home for poor women.

“When they arrived, they were too traumatised to say anything. They hadn’t eaten for four days and could barely stand,” said Pratima Pandya of the trust, who plans to petition President Pratibha Patil to ensure that Rajesh is punished.

Sunita had earlier complained to Padra police but they took no action. Even the policemen who came to the trust to record the women’s statements told Sunita her husband had committed no “heinous crime”.

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