Young Mother Disowned For Giving Birth To A Girl

Bhavna*, a young mother in Dhanbad, Jharkhand was disowned by her husband of three years in May 2020. She was abandoned for giving birth to a girl against the wishes of her husband and his family.

Bhavna with her daughter

After their marriage, Bhavna and her husband began living with his family, which included his parents, his elder brother and sister-in-law. Just two months into the marriage, Bhavna, 23 at that time, started getting harassed daily by her in-laws who demanded more dowry from her. Bhavna’s parents had already given her husband’s family 1.5 lakh rupees at the time of their marriage. She had to endure severe emotional and physical abuse in her marital home because she and her family could not meet their demands. Many times, they even forbade her from eating food or drinking water. Bhavna’s husband made no effort to protect her, instead he himself regularly inflicted abuse on her.

Bhavna’s struggles in her marital home worsened when she became pregnant. On January 25, 2020, halfway through her pregnancy, her husband and in-laws ganged up on her and beat her up. Blood poured out of her mouth as she was being attacked. She feared for her baby’s life and herself and managed to call her sister who came and rescued her. Bhavna had to be hospitalized because of the severity of the injuries she sustained from the attack. Thankfully, she did not lose the baby. Bhavna began staying with her parents after this incident. 

Bhavna gave birth to a girl on 28 May, 2020. Her parents had no means to support her daughter or the baby. Bhavna herself is uneducated and unemployed. In an effort to reconcile, Bhavna’s parents reached out to her in-laws on the phone. However, her husband refused to even come to see the baby. 

On 1 August, 2020, Bhavna’s parents took her back to her marital home with the baby. Her husband and in-laws, on finding that it was a girl, refused to accept the child as theirs. They said a girl child was of no worth to them. The in-laws also harshly informed them that they were looking for a more suitable bride for their son to marry, a bride who could bring a handsome dowry with her. They humiliated Bhavna’s family further by spewing insults at them and threw them out of the house.

This was the last straw of injustice for Bhavna. Gathering courage, she decided to fight for her daughter and herself. She filed a complaint at the Women’s Cell on 2 August, 2020. The authorities advised her husband to reconcile with his wife and take care of her and the child. However this led to no effective outcome. 

Bhavna heard of the legal aid services provided by ADF India's Vanishing Girls Campaign through a friend and reached out to us. Our allied lawyers helped her file another complaint with the Women’s Cell and a Domestic Violence petition against her husband and in-laws seeking monetary damages for what she had to undergo at their hands. An application seeking maintenance has also been filed on her behalf. 

Bhavna's case was admitted by the Court on 9 August 2021 and our allied lawyers were directed to file the notice to the husband. We hope for favorable hearing in this matter and hope that the final order will be passed in the Maintenance case by the end of March, this month.

Carrying out sex-selective abortions and demanding dowry are punishable offences under Indian law, but very often these crimes go unreported and therefore unpunished. In India, every day, 7000 girls are killed in the womb, just because they are girls. More than 20 women are killed everyday in our country due to the evil practice of dowry. These statistics reflect the low value that Indian society places on women and girls. Their right to equality is routinely violated even 70 years after the Indian Constitution came into force. There is no denying the fact that women in India have made considerable progress in the last fifty years but they continue to struggle due to social evils like son-preference and dowry. 

A research study has shown that the most immediate cause of son-preference or sex-selective abortion is the perception of daughters as economic and social liabilities due to factors like dowry costs, protection of daughter’s chastity and concern about her marriage. Mothers bear the full brunt of the scorn and shame that come from the birth of a female child. They consequently become victims of abuse, beatings, abandonment and sometimes, even murder.

“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.”  - Jawaharlal Nehru

ADF India is committed to cultivating a future where human dignity is affirmed for all women and girls. Through our Vanishing Girls campaign, we advocate for the right of all women and girls to be loved, to have equal rights to the family inheritance, and to have their freedoms protected and promoted.

ADF India provides free legal assistance through our panel of allied lawyers to women like Bhavna who suffer for giving birth to girls. For more details, visit

*name has been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

Interview with Media Production expert, Sharon Angel

Vanishing Girls had the pleasure to host an interview with Sharon Angel, Founder of A North Production, Author, TV Show Host, Entrepreneur, Humanitarian, Motivational Speaker and all round Media Production expert. The interview was part of a number of events organised under our “Isn’t She Precious!” campaign.

Sharon is a dynamic, young leader and a voice for this generation. Sharon’s passion lies in bridging societal divides between people of different status, faith, caste, race, age and gender. Her goal is to give voice to those who are destitute and faced by  oppression, and help facilitate their journey toward rehabilitation, employment and leadership through her work in media and justice.

In this interview, Sharon shares her experience of what it's like to work, as a female, in the media industry. You may watch the video interview here. A transcript of the same is available below.

VG: Media production is still a new field for women, especially, in India. Did you face any challenges when you decided to choose this line of work?

Sharon: I certainly faced many challenges being a female in the media production industry in India. I started very young when I made it a career being in front of the camera — telling stories, singing songs and hosting television shows. I was probably just 10 years old. And if I had an opinion, if I had an idea, or a thought, it wasn't taken seriously because I was a girl and I was very young.

Not just my gender, but my age was also against me because everybody who was working with me had 10 to 15 years of experience. They were older and they were male. So, their ideas, their thoughts and their plans always got heard over mine. This propagated me to get some experience. I did many internships. I pulled all-nighters learning how to edit videos. I wrote scripts, I learned how to write a story, and how to tell one. I put myself through graduate school for film and cinema television. The documentary that I made in graduate school broke many stereotypes because as a young Indian girl, they did not expect me to be good. This experience gave me a level up in my career and brought a lot of respect to Indian female women around the world.

VG: In India, 7000 unborn girls are aborted every day just because they are girls. While the law needs to be strictly enforced to curb this, what do you think could be done to change the mindset of the people and the false narrative against the girl child?

Sharon: The current narrative is that the girl child is a financial burden. We need to tell stories to change this narrative. During the recent Covid-19 lockdown period, there was an inspiring story of this young girl, who carried her old father on a cycle from their village to the town, where her father worked. The father was not physically capable of doing this himself. Because of her efforts, her father was able to continue work, and the family could receive a regular income for their livelihood.

We need to tell such stories and highlight the competence and courage of women and girls. They can contribute to the growth of the family and to society. In telling such stories, we’re impacting mindsets.

VG: As a girl, how has your family been a support to you?

Sharon: I'm grateful for the support I get from my family. If I had to list out what each of them did, it would be a long list. There were times when they did not understand why I wanted to do certain things, but even in those times they gave me the space to experiment, to explore, to fight for the things that I wanted to stand up for. That space meant trust. And that space meant that they're giving me the freedom to actually pursue my dreams. And that meant a lot to me.

Even though they were not able to walk with me through every single thing, allowing me, or giving me the space to do it meant that they were still supporting me. I encourage people who don't know how to support somebody, to simply give them the space to experiment and explore the things that they want to do. Their tenacity and their courage will get them to the place where they want to go.

VG: As we celebrate the inherent worth of the girl child through the “Isn't She Precious!” campaign, what would you like to say to the girl child today?

Sharon: All my little ladies remember that you are valuable. You are talented and you are beautiful. You are so important and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise.

Remember that your talent is valuable. If you have a talent, if you have a skill and if you have a dream, pursue it because no one else will do it for you. That avenue is meant for you to accomplish and succeed.

Always be kind! Do everything in kindness. Be gracious to people, be gracious to the people of your gender and be gracious to the people of other gender. Be gracious to people who are battered and bruised and who have gone through struggles and challenges. Your kindness will place you on a higher pedestal. Keep fighting for your cause, invest in your cause, work for it, and don't let your dream die. And more importantly, remember that you are precious.