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Delhi High Court Suggests Educating Society How a Child’s Gender is Decided

Delhi High Court Suggests Educating Society How a Child’s Gender is Decided

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NEW DELHI, Jan 11: Parents who give their daughters-in-law a hard time for not being able to fulfil their desire of “preserving their family tree” need to be educated that it is their son and not his wife whose chromosomes will decide the child’s gender, the Delhi High Court has observed.The high court, which was dealing with a case of dowry death of a woman after being allegedly harassed by her husband and in-laws for bringing insufficient dowry and giving birth to two daughters, said in contemporary times, the idea of a woman’s worth being tied to material considerations contradicts the principles of equality and dignity.

“The persistent prevalence of regressive mindset and instances exemplified by cases involving insatiable demands for dowry underscores a broader societal concern. It highlights the challenges faced by married women whose intrinsic value and dignity should not be contingent upon their parents’ ability to meet the insatiable financial demands from their in-laws,” Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said.

The high court made the observations while denying bail to the husband in a dowry death case. The allegations against the accused were that he along with his family members used to torture his wife for dowry leading to her committing suicide.

It has been alleged by the complainant, father of the deceased woman, that the accused and his family pressured his daughter for additional dowry and financial demands, causing significant distress. It has also been alleged by him that she was taunted and mistreated for giving birth to two daughters.

 The high court said it was disturbing to witness a scenario where parents wish for the well-being of their daughter and her comfort after she leaves her paternal house and tries to settle in the matrimonial home but instead of providing her love and support, the new bride is met with unrelenting greed and harassment from in-laws family.

It said the trauma is multiplied and becomes lifelong when the victim of a dowry-related offence gives up her life due to constant torture and harassment, especially when the two daughters she has given birth to and loved also become a ground to harass and traumatise her as if she is solely responsible for the child’s gender.

“Surprisingly, the genetic science in this regard is ignored according to which, the genetic determination of gender of the unborn child when the child is conceived, involves the combination of X and Y chromosomes, with females possessing two X chromosomes (XX) and males having one X and one Y chromosome (XY).”

“According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the outcome of fertilisation depends on whether an unfertilised egg fuses with a sperm carrying an X or Y chromosome, resulting in the birth of a girl or boy, respectively,” the high court said.

It said the court had dealt with numerous cases of harassment, nagging and suicide or dowry deaths due to the victim being victimised for giving birth to daughters after being constantly harassed over not being able to fulfil her husband and in-laws’ desire of “preserving the family tree.”

Justice Sharma said the court was “constrained to observe that such people need to be educated that it is their son and not their daughter-in-law whose chromosomes through the union of a married couple will decide the gender of their child.

“Even if this judgement becomes the birthplace of such enlightenment, it will go a long way to change the mindsets of perpetrators of such crimes and save lives of innocent married women, by using principles of science through principles of law,” she said.

The high court, in its order, said prima facie at this stage, a woman has lost her life for giving birth to daughters, which should be unacceptable to a conscientious society and such offences have to be considered grave and serious when the trial is yet to begin.

(Manas Dasgupta)

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