Take Rs 50,000 and abort pregnancy, Bihar panchayat tells raped minor

  • Aditya Nath Jha, Hindustan Times, Kishanganj, Bihar
  • Updated: Dec 05, 2014 11:45 IST

The 16-year-old wants justice; they are offering her money - Rs 50,000 to abort a pregnancy allegedly caused by rape and move on with life.

This is a diktat a panchayat in Kishanganj district of eastern Bihar has passed after hearing the seven-month pregnant minor who wants her rapist to be ordered to marry her.

In her complaint to the police earlier this week, the girl alleged a man, assisted by three of his brothers, had raped her.

"When I approached the elders of my village, they held a panchayat and ordered me to take Rs 50,000 and undergo an abortion," the girl said in her complaint.

The panchayat decision is not the first to raise eyebrows in the poor state, which has been demanding "special category" status from the central government for years.

Kishanganj, where Muslims constitute about 70% of the population, is among the most backward districts of Bihar, with a high poverty rate and a low literacy level.

The Kishanganj panchayat diktat comes barely two months after a similar decision was taken by an assembly of elders at a village in Muzaffarpur district in north Bihar.

The Muzaffarpur panchayat had advised a 14-year-old rape victim to accept Rs 2 lakh from the alleged rapist and abort her pregnancy.

The women's police station in-charge who received the Kishanganj girl's complaint said, "We are probing the matter to ascertain the authenticity of the complaint."

According to the police official, the minor is from an extremely poor family. Her parents are labourers: the father often migrates in search of work and mother works in the agricultural fields for daily wages.

A section of villagers in the Kishanganj village did not sound sympathetic towards the minor.

"We often have girls falling in love, becoming pregnant and then running from pillar to post to seek justice," said a villager who did not want to be named.

Two years ago, another panchayat in Kishanganj district had banned girls and women from using mobile phones in a response to cases of elopement.

The panchayat members had then insisted the ban was a well-intentioned step to preserve moral values.

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