The father of the girl can’t reconcile with the bitter reality staring him in the face.
“Who will accept a daughter with a child before marriage... and I cannot feed her anymore,” says the father of eight children whose appeal for termination of his minor daughter’s pregnancy has been rejected by a fast-track court here.
The 30-weeks pregnant teen rape survivor, her father claims, is only 14 years old and he has school records to prove it. In the FIR, the police claimed she was 18. And this discrepancy was one of the reasons the family could not appeal in time for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP).
The accused “who repeatedly raped the girl on the pretext of marrying her and left her when she conceived” was arrested and put behind bars.
The family’s travails started on May 26 when relatives informed the father, working with a road construction company, that his daughter had become pregnant after being raped. He returned to his village, but it took them another two weeks to lodge a complaint with the police on June 9.
“I went against my community for justice and this is what I get,” says the father. He says the villagers initially tried to suppress the matter by suggesting he marry off his daughter with the accused. “They used every possible ploy to break us but I trusted the law and went to the police,” he says.
The medical tests following the FIR confirmed she was 19 weeks and six days pregnant and could have legally aborted her foetus. What happened between then and now is a sad case of ignorance of law and apathetic official machinery.
“None of us is literate, we don’t know anything about the law,” says the father, alleging that the authorities kept delaying the hearing in the case. “We managed to file the appeal for the MTP on July 26 when pregnancy was of 26 weeks,” says VP Dhyani the family advocate.
The lower court refused to give permission for MTP after which the family appealed in a fast-track court on August 3. On August 17 the fast-track court also declined to give permission for MTP.
“The maximum duration for MTP in such cases is 28 weeks, after that the foetus is called viable and can only be delivered not terminated,” said senior Gynaecologist Dr Bharti Saran.
Unlike the case of the 23-year-old Maharashtra rape survivor, who was allowed by the Supreme Court to terminate her 24-week pregnancy, the Bareilly survivor faces a tough choice given the delay in filing her appeal.
“The girl is third of my eight children. I have no job. For a moment I can overlook what my community says but I won’t be able to feed her and her child,” says the father.
As a last-ditch attempt the father has decided to file an appeal in the Allahabad high court next week. “I will stay with the path I have chosen, rest is up to the almighty.”