The Bombay high court on Tuesday said early information about pregnancy and sex education in villages can avoid incidents like the one in Yavatmal district where 400 girls under 18 have had children with contract workers.
A division bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice AV Achliya was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Adiwasi Samaj Kriti Samiti Trust.
It stated that at least 400 girls from the Kolam tribe have become pregnant before marriage in Yavatmal, which shares borders with Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
The PIL said 404 villages have many unmarried women, who have become pregnant and most of them are under 18.
The PIL claimed that most of the men responsible for the pregnancies were local contractors, who frequent the tribal areas for infrastructure projects and construction contract.
The court then asked whether the minor should go for pregnancy termination, and enquired if they were covered under the Medical Termination Pregnancy Act?
The court also pointed out that incidents of sexual abuse take place on a large scale at state borders.
The PIL asked the court to direct the state to give these young mothers medical and financial aid, along with employment.
It further said that as most of the girls did not even know the name of the father of their child, they were using the name of their own fathers, who is actually the grandfather, on government certificates.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar for the petitioner said, “The PIL highlights many additional issues of malnutrition, poverty, lack of education and anaemic mothers.”
He also said that there is no awareness and sensitisation in this area.
The court observed that these girls can be rehabilitated under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act.
It said early and proper information about pregnancy and education about safe sex can avoid such incidents.
The court has asked the collector of Yavatmal to be made a respondent in the PIL and told the state to take instructions in two weeks.