Illegal sex determination and botched abortion: How a Telangana family’s desire for a son led to death of a pregnant woman

Harassing and threatening Suhashini when she got pregnant for the third time, her husband and in-laws said they only wanted a son next.

BySumit Jha

Published Jul 04, 2024 | 7:00 AM Updated Jul 04, 2024 | 7:44 PM

Illegal sex determination and botched abortion: How a Telangana family's desire for a son led to death of a pregnant woman

In 2019, Battu Krishna in Telangana’s Mahabubabad married off his daughter, Suhashini to Ratnavath Harising, a resident of Chivvemla Mandal in Suryapet. As part of the marriage, he gave 10 lakhs in cash, 15 guntas (0.3 acre) of land, and 5 tulas (around 50 grams) of gold as dowry, hoping to secure a prosperous future for his daughter.

The couple has two daughters, now aged four years and two and a half years. However, her husband’s family did not want daughters. When Suhashini became pregnant again, the family desired to have a son. Suhashini was then harassed for having given birth to two daughters and was warned that if they found out the third child is a daughter too, she would have to be aborted.

“Harisingh and his relatives harassed my daughter both mentally and physically because she did not give birth to a boy. They threatened her, saying that if she did not have a son, they would arrange another marriage for Harisingh. They also pressured her to undergo an ultrasound scan, warning that if the foetus was found to be female, she would have to abort it,” said the father in the police complaint.

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The sex determination test

Out of fear, his daughter agreed to their demands and they moved to Suryapet. A week ago, Harisingh decided to go for a sex determination test and approached two technicians, Ranapangu Gopi, and Shaik Saidulu, at Vijaya Hospital in Kodad, Suryapet.

“The RMP Amaragoni Naveen referred them to this hospital,” said District Medical and Health Officer (DMHO) Dr. Kotachalam to South First.

The hospital staff connected the couple with Kammampati Guruvaiah, who conducted the test on 23 June and confirmed that Suhasini was carrying a third female child. “The hospital is run by a doctor who is around 70 years and has all the ultrasound scanning equipment, none of which is registered with the health department. Under the MTP and PNCDT Act, these types of equipment must be registered with the district health department. He was illegally conducting these scans,” said the DMHO.

According to Suhasini’s father, she was eight months pregnant. Upset with the news, the family took Suhasini to Shaik Qasim, a manager at Kamala Hospital in Huzurnagar, for an abortion. Although he is only a manager, Qasim conducted the procedure with the help of Devarakonda Rani, a nurse at the facility.

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The botched surgery

“They knew that if they performed an abortion in the eighth month, my daughter could die, but they did it anyway. They gave her heavy tablets and injections during the procedure. When she became seriously ill, they stopped the abortion midway and suggested shifting her to another hospital,” said the father in his complaint.

“Both of them took the patient to a small room in the middle of a mango orchard and tried to perform the abortion by giving her injections and pills. However, they couldn’t complete it,” explained the DMHO.

As Suhasini’s condition deteriorated, the family first moved her to Vijaya Hospital in neighbouring Mattampally town and later to Khammam. “The doctors at these two hospitals said they couldn’t do anything and that the patient needed to be shifted to Hyderabad for further treatment. However, the compounders at both hospitals promised they would help with the abortion. Due to the complexity of the case, no one succeeded,” said the DMHO.

For two days, from 23 to 25 June, Suhasini had no choice but to endure these procedures that caused her immense pain. On 25 June, she became unconscious, and her relatives took her to Ramamurthy Hospital, where she was declared dead.

Battu Krishna learned about the incident and filed a police complaint at the Suryapet town police station on 27 June.

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Six arrested and charges filed

The police registered the case under sections 498(A)(Cruelty by husband/relatives), 304-II(Culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 314 (Death caused by act with intent to cause miscarriage)of the IPC, and sections 5(2) (Exception to save pregnant woman’s life) and 5(3)(Protection for medical practitioners) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

A case has also been filed under section 23(1)(3)(Punishment for violating the Act) of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994, PCPNDT Act in short and launched an investigation.

Police arrested six people for conducting an illegal sex-determination test and a botched abortion. Among those arrested were the woman’s husband, Ratnavath Harisingh, who allegedly forced her to undergo the abortion, and a doctor. The Telangana health department has sealed Huzurnagar Hospital.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Sunpreet Singh stated on Monday, 1 July that the victim, Suhasini, married Ratnavath Harisingh in 2019. Ratnavath Harisingh and five others were arrested and booked for sex determination, female foeticide, and the death of his wife.

“We are continuously doing public awareness campaigns about the value and importance of female children, also about the legal consequences and moral implications of sex determination and female foeticide,” said the DMHO.

However, in the last one year, three cases have been registered in the district under PNCDT act and MTP act, he added.

“We also strictly regulate and monitor ultrasound scanning centres and Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) centres. Even ASHA workers and ANMs regularly monitor the menstrual cycles of women, and visit villages to ask about it,” explained the DMHO.

(Edited by Neena)

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