Monday, August 18, 2008

The Forbidden Daughter-Shobhan Bantwal

The Forbidden Daughter
Shobhan Bantwal
Kensington, Sep 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0758220308

Their first offspring was female so Nikhil and Isha Tilak expect their second child to be a male. However, they are stunned when ultrasound test confirms Isha is carrying a girl. Nikhil's affluent parents demand their daughter-in-law abort the female fetus. Even her physician Dr. Larnik recommends ending her pregnancy with an illegal abortion.

Nikhil says no as he wants his offspring to live and also worries about the health of his wife. However, he suddenly is murdered. Isha believes her husband’s modern day western stance against the abortion on demand due to the fetus being thewrong gender led to his homicide. She assumes she is next if she fails to abort ASAP.

THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER is an insightful look at the international abortion industry in which a prime reason to destroy the fetus is the wrong gender especially in patriarchal societies. The story line is at its best when the focus is on Nikhil, Isha and their extended families (especially his) as they put faces to the abortion issue. When the plot pontificates against the free use of abortion, some of the sting is lost as the pressure on Nikhil to do his duty and then after he is murdered on his pregnant widow to do her duty loses some of the impact. Still well written, this astute tale affirms no one gets as deep into Indian society as Shobhan Bantwal does (see THE DOWRY BRIDE).

Harriet Klausner

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