Friday, September 12, 2008

Shobhan Bantwal and The Forbidden Daughter

The Book Connection welcomes back Indian-American author Shobhan Bantwal who first visited us in October 2007. Shobhan's latest release is titled The Forbidden Daughter.

About the book: This is the story of one young mother, Isha Tilak. When a sonogram reveals that their second child is another girl, Isha and her husband Nikhil's lives are forever altered. Their doctor suggests an abortion and her in-laws insist on it. Refusing to comply with their wishes leads to a bizarre chain of events -- Isha's husband becomes the victim of a mysterious murder plot, leaving her alone with one daughter and another on the way. Her only option is to sever her ties to her in-laws and raise her girls as a single mother.

But more danger threatens to rip apart her new life. The stakes become impossibly high -- even for a woman as brave as Isha.

I've asked Shobhan to discuss the social issues that she raises in the book. Here is what she had to say:

While the female fetus abortion plot is a product of my imagination, there is an element of truth in it. Truth can often be not only stranger but significantly more disturbing than fiction. In this case, it may very well be.

Some two decades ago, patriarchal cultures like India discovered that ultrasound or echogram technology could be used for purposes other than what it was designed for. Overnight, the sonogram went from a way of detecting tumors, abnormalities, and life-threatening conditions in unborn children to an easy method of detecting the sex of a fetus.

Consequently, millions of couples in India have allegedly resorted to female feticide with the help of medical practitioners. In a culture where a daughter is viewed as a burden because of dowry and other archaic but persistent customs, ultrasound has become a valuable as well as dangerous tool in empowering families to rid themselves of female children before they come into the world.

The Lancet, a British medical journal, reported in January 2006 that according to a study nearly 10 million female fetuses may have been aborted in India over the past two decades. Besides the moral issues involved in gender-based abortion, the unbalanced female-to-male ratio could lead to severe social repercussions in the future: a disproportionate number of males with no hope of marriage or healthy long-term relationships. Just imagine how that could affect crimes against women!

Under pressure from activists, the Indian government passed The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act in 1994, banning the use of ultrasound machines to reveal fetus gender. Furthermore, a 2002 amendment stiffened the penalties. And yet, the practice of selectively destroying female fetuses supposedly continues.

When I wrote The Forbidden Daughter, it was not only to draw my readers’ attention to an alarming social issue in the world’s largest democracy, but also to tell a compelling story that brings to light the spirit of a woman, and a mother’s strength and conviction to stand up to societal pressures when it comes to protecting her children.

And as a hopeless romantic, I love stories written in a positive vein and love at their center.

An excerpt and book trailer of The Forbidden Daughter can be found on my website:

THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on September 2, '08 and end on September 26, '08. You can visit the author's tour stops at in September to find out more about them and their new book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away one FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at on September 26!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

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