UP: Teen rape survivor who gave birth to child last year married off to accused
A 14-year-old rape survivor who gave birth to a child last year after being denied permission to abort her foetus has got married to her alleged rapist following intervention by village elders.
The girl’s plight had hit the headlines as she ran from pillar to post to get her pregnancy terminated. She initially maintained she did not want the child, but once the baby was born, she refused to give him up.
The courts denied her permission to abort as she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and doctors felt the procedure might endanger her life. Abortions are allowed till 20 weeks under law.
The child is now 10 months old and both the mother and son moved to the accused man’s home last fortnight. “My parents cannot feed me and my child. Here, we at least get two meals a day,” the girl told HT.
The heartrending story of the girl from a small village near Bareilly, some 250 km northwest of state capital Lucknow, captured the challenges faced by teenaged rape survivors. On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected the abortion plea of a 10-year-old rape survivor and asked the central government to consider setting up a permanent medical board in every state to quickly decide on pleas from pregnant women asking for terminations beyond the 20-week period.
The Bareilly girl claimed that her alleged rapist, hailing from the same village, had repeatedly raped her on the false pretext of marriage. She filed a police complaint and the accused was jailed for several months before being freed on bail.
The rape case is still pending and AK Bhatnagar, the lawyer for the accused, said the couple will move the court soon with their marriage certificate to quash the case. The duo has already applied to register their social marriage before the local sub-divisional judicial magistrate. It wasn’t immediately clear if the marriage of the minor girl will pass legal muster.
Though the cause of their sufferings, the accused has been forgiven by the girl’s family. “Samaaj se akele kab tak ladai karte... dar dar bhatakne se to achha hai ki uske ghar chali gayi (How long can one fight against the society...it is better that she has gone to his house),” the girl’s father, who is a daily wage earner, said. “I married off my child only on the assurance of the village elders and the boy’s family that they will take care of her,” he added.
Village elders oversaw the marriage after the family of the accused agreed to take the mother and child home. “It was a mistake on my part for which Allah will never forgive me. I want to correct that mistake by accepting her and my child,” the accused said.
The girl had stumped many with her motherly instincts despite her young age. The day her son was born, dozens of childless couples seeking to adopt had landed up at the Bareilly hospital, offering her cash. She spurned all offers, insisting she would not give up on the child.