Rape survivor struggles in face of apathy

Sep 15, 2016 12:17 PM IST

NEW DELHI: An overwhelming majority of her countrymen may be oblivious to her plight, but the drama playing out in Uttar Pradesh over a 14-year-old rape survivor now 32-week pregnant is definitely a national shame.

HT Image
HT Image

It has been a tragic spectacle so far: the girl and her poor father knocking on the doors of the judiciary and government offices seeking permission to abort the child they do not want, but being greeted with little or no sympathy.

Raped earlier this year, the girl desperately wants to get rid of the foetus. But the establishment would not let her have her way. A court first rejected her plea, citing laws that ban termination beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy.

She appealed to a higher court, which ordered her to approach the chief medical officer (CMO). A panel was formed, which finally on Monday said a firm ‘No’.

It is supposedly all for her good, since abortion at an advanced stage could endanger her life. But yet, she was treated with disdain at every level. Time was of essence in this case, but court hearings took weeks. And when the decision finally rested with the CMO, he reportedly kept her waiting since he was busy with something else. All the while, her baby bump kept growing — to the point she could not be medically helped any longer.

But the legal wrangling over her pregnancy is besides the point.

The moot point is none has cared to bother about what happens to her, now that legal doors have been firmly shut.

Perhaps, the apathy heaped on her had something to do with her being from Bharat and not India. In July, the story of a Mumbai rape survivor seeking to abort her 24-week pregnancy made front page news. No such luck for this girl though, as she is from a dusty small village 45km from Bareilly tucked deep in the Hindi heartland.

Her unwanted motherhood is an unfolding nightmare. “I don’t want this child,” she says. “I can’t put up with this shame,” adds her father. But the establishment continues to turn a blind eye to their desperation.

UP has a district probation officer tasked with looking after victims of rape, acid attacks and domestic violence.

Asha Jyoti Kendras in the state are meant to help rehabilitate such women.

The district magistrate is also empowered to intervene. But no official has even bothered to visit the family till date. Both the mother and the child she is carrying are staring at a very uncertain future.

The saving grace could, however, be some good Samaritans. Moved by HT reports, an aged lady from Ghaziabad has offered monetary help.

The widow of a deceased army officer has got in touch, saying she was ready to adopt the child. The hapless girl caught up in a hopeless situation deserves some hope.

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    Ruben was part of Hindustan Times’ nationwide network of journalists that brings news, analysis and information to its readers. He no longer works with the Hindustan Times.

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