Female feticide is common in India and surrounding countries. I was very surprised when a gynecologist in California told me that it is practiced by South Asians in many parts of America as well. She mentioned that when an Indian patient finds out that the fetus is female, the likelihood of aborting the pregnancy is very high, even higher if this is a woman’s second or third female child.
I spoke to several other gynecologists who relayed similar experiences.
One gynecologist told me that he offered sex selection through IVF as an alternative to abortion but the patient’s family was not willing to bear the expense, even if they could afford it. They did not care that the wife/daughter-in-law was having to go through several traumatizing abortions. Another ObGyn said that she was afraid to do an ultrasound on her patient for fear that it would be a female fetus. She said that sometimes she would make an excuse or stall until the next check-up.
The reasons given by patients and families for their preference of a male child are the same everywhere – the boy will continue the family name, he will take care of the family business and his aging parents, and most importantly, a man is not masculine enough if he cannot father a son.
As a writer and storyteller, I knew I had to tell this story. How we conveniently do certain things under the guise of culture, tradition, and customs. Normalization and rationalization of unreasonable behavior are often justified as tradition.
As a woman and a mother of daughters, I believe that women should have the power to make decisions about their own bodies and to speak up for themselves. I wrote and produced the short film ‘Unborn’ to convey this message to all women of the world. If one woman, one husband, one family sees this film and a female child is given a chance to survive and ultimately thrive, then this film has done its job!
Directed by Jaswant Shrestha, the film stars the talented actors Ayushi Chhabra, Sumeet Dang, and Rashmi Rustagi. It has won several awards at many film festivals including Best Short Film, Best Actress for Ayushi Chhabra, and Best Supporting Actress for Rashmi Rustagi.
Unborn is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Rashmi Rustagi is an actor, writer, producer, and food blogger. She has pursued acting from a very young age, starting out as a radio actor in All India Radio plays in Lucknow, India. She performed in several theatre productions while living in the Bay Area and is currently a film and television actor in Hollywood.