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In This Day & Age.....

I'm sad today, really sad......

I've mentioned a neighbour's daughter, Chitra (not her real name), a young woman in her early twenties who got married a few short years ago, is now the mother of a baby daughter and finds herself stifled by tradition.  I still remember Chitra cycling down the road on her bicycle in her school uniform calling out "Hi Gael Aunty......"  Well, I met Chitra yesterday.  She is home on a visit.  There is another sad story to tell.

She recently found out she was pregnant for the second time.  That's okay.  Two children is perfectly acceptable by Indian standards.  (I have four, but being a foreigner, I am allowed my little (!) eccentricities).  Her husband is abroad, and she was spending time at her parents' place.  She informed her husband and in-laws of the pregnancy by telephone.  They were not happy.  One day, the parents-in-law appeared at Chitra's parents home and insisted on taking her away.  Her parents, in no mood to antagonise Chitra's in-laws, agreed to let her go.

The in-laws brought her to a clinic and had the child's sex discovered.  Female.  Chitra's child was then aborted more or less immediately.  She is now recovering at her parent's home.

There was no reason at all to kill that baby.  The family are well off.  This couple have  only have one child.  Chitra is healthy.  The pregnancy was progressing well.  Most of all; Chitra wanted the baby.  She did not want to have an abortion.  But in the face of pressure from her in-laws, her confidence was low.

I'm from Ireland, and I well remember the abortion debate.  Ireland had banned abortion.  The pro-abortion lobby argued that a woman has a right to choose.  The anti-abortion lobby argued that the child also has the right to life.

What choice did Chitra have?  That baby was killed because it was not a boy.  It is so sad that in this day and age a married, educated girl can't be allowed to give birth to her own child.  Let me say here, that as per the Indian laws, what has happened to Chitra is illegal.  Her in-laws are technically outlaws.  Still, they did it.  It is not the laws which have to change.  It is the awareness which has to change.

I am writing this through a veil of tears.  I'm weeping for Chitra and for her child.


  1. That is AWFUL! How horrible. I feel for all the mothers and babies. (I'm also pro-choice, but this is so sad.)

  2. This is so absolutely staggering on so many levels that I have almost no words!

    My love and prayers are with Chitra, and while I read so many stories of this sort of thing happening there, this is personal, having 'met' Chitra though your blog.

    No woman deserves to be treated with such disdain, not one living amongst us, or one waiting to be born.

  3. Good God... this is... I am speechless. I am filled with anger and sadness.

  4. Oh this is just appalling. My heart bleeds for this poor girl. I just don't know what else to say.

  5. How terrible. Sad that her husband did not support her. Sadder still that she let her in-laws prevail. Until the women in India stand up for themselves and their rights, nothing will change.

  6. This is unbelievable from a Capital city of a state. I do know that this happens in the hinterland, but to happen in Lucknow is staggering. I would have lodged a police complaint, but I suppose that it will harm the young girl. What a sad situation.

  7. How powerless the young woman must feel to have so little agency over her own life. I don't know how one begins to recover from that, but I hope she finds a way.

  8. Do you know that it is a CRIMINAL offense to have a person's sex determined anywhere in India!! Anyone who has the knowledge of it is in collusion if he/she is not reporting it. Do this country a favour and report it...

    Or if its too much. Lets let the other remain anonymous. Just tell me the name of the nursing clinic and I'll report. I still have a lot of faith left in my government (yes, even in a state like UP) and I have no doubt that clinic and its employees will be stripped off their worth for their remaining lives...

    this is more than criminal. shit.

  9. Oh! I am so indignant. I am so angry.
    How dare anyone do that. My heart goes out to this poor girl.

    Nuts in May

  10. This is so far from my way of thinking. It's impossible to fathom someone not only having such control over another person's life but such a destructive control. It's vile. I'm so sorry for your friend. And I'm so sorry that you're hurting for them. This is just so wrong.

  11. i dont even know what to say...tears.

  12. I am at a loss for words. Perhaps you can (if it would be helpful and not seen as a violation) share with her the fact that we stand with her in her sadness. This is an outrage. Her husband--above all--should be ashamed of himself for not standing up for his own flesh and blood and for not giving his wife the support she needs to stand up for their family in his absence.

  13. This is sad but true! It happens even today in many places....

  14. I'm so sorry. Is there any chance something like this could happen to your daughter? When it's time for her to marry how much say will your in-laws have?

  15. Jean, I have noticed that girls here who get married at a younger age tend to have less control over their lives, educated or not. My friend Dr. Sumitra, aged 37, who got married recently is not only well educated but professionally sound also. She is far less likely to be pushed around in these matters, as her self confidence is quite high. This is why it is important to make girls not only educated but self-sufficient too. As I am a foreign national, my kids can also opt to live in my native country if they so wish. So hopefully, that fate will not await my girls. But that doesn't mean I should be complacent....

  16. Deeptanshu and Rummuser - the girl's sasural is in another northern state, although her maika garh is in UP. Believe me, I would not sit idly by if I knew more details. The vile act happened at the sasural place.

  17. Mwa, Anna,..daisy..,Ayak, Ellen, Margaret, Maggie May,Hilary, Brian, GB and SHCG - your comments have given me a great feeling of support. I'm so glad that there are other people who share my feelings about this.

    Chitra wants to build up a career for herself so that no matter how her future turns out, she'll be self sufficient. She told me that she has become so tough after this experience that nothing will ever hurt her again.

    I meet her every day. I'm trying to support her as best I can, as a concerned friend.

  18. It is shameful, Gaelikaa, on two counts: Forcing anything on anyone and, Hurray Henry, it was a GIRL. What a pity: A boy might have been allowed to have been born. And who will be there for Chitra to deal with the emotional fall-out?

    There are circumstances when abortion, whilst a terrible form of birth control, is the only choice: I am all for it when safely available. However, that's between mother and child, no one else. The child, by virtue of not being born, won't know any different - so no loss there; the mother will have to live with her conscience for the rest of her life.

    What strikes me again and again, Gaelikaa, in your accounts of your life in India how families have such major impact/influence/say on an individual's life. To my rebellious character it's unbelievable. I can't stand being dictated to, and I thank my lucky stars that I never fell in love with an Indian man - no disrespect to your husband.

    Maria: Where do Indian women take the patience from? And why do mothers and mothers-in-law collaborate in perpetuating this terrible state of affairs? They themselves surely must remember how they were put upon. Why help to perpetuate the same suffering on their children?


  19. I heard a lady talk here in the US who described much the same thing, except that American school officials performed the role of the in-laws in compelling the abortion.

  20. Hello Gaelikaa,
    Just today I have read your analysis of "mother-in-law matters" in your other blog and read it twice as I found it enormously interesting. Chitra was one of your examples of how these relationships work and I thought how significantly her life changed after being married and how tough her new life has had to be. After reading this follow-up to Chitra's story, I feel sad too. How outrageous it is to manipulate someone's life this way. Where was her husband to support her? This event proves how powerful her in-laws are, even her own family didn't stand by her. What a sad fate...

  21. Oh Gaelikaa, I feel for the young girl! I don't know what to say. I know your heart is heavy! Come visit my Sixty Is Just The beginning as I have something there for you!

  22. I am shocked by awful for poor Chitra.

  23. This is very sad. I know a story very similar.

  24. oh poor chitra. i am without words.


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