The court gave its decision on the basis of a report submitted by an eight-member panel of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).(HT File)
The court gave its decision on the basis of a report submitted by an eight-member panel of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).(HT File)

10-year-old’s abortion: After SC verdict, focus shifts to girl’s health

The SC bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud expressed satisfaction over the medical care being provided to the rape survivor at present and dismissed the plea seeking abortion.
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Aneesha Bedi, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON JUL 29, 2017 01:17 PM IST

With the Supreme Court on Friday dismissing the plea to terminate the 32-week pregnancy of a 10-year-old rape survivor, the focus has now shifted to her health.

The girl was repeatedly raped over seven months by a maternal uncle. The crime came to light two weeks ago when she was taken to hospital. After a local court dismissed her abortion plea, a Delhi-based lawyer had moved a public interest litigation in the apex court.

The court gave its decision on the basis of a report submitted by an eight-member panel of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), which carried out the girl’s medical examination on Wednesday. Whether the delivery will be natural or through C-section is something only time will tell, say doctors.

The apex court has asked doctors at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, to ensure best possible treatment and medical care to the girl.

‘Need to prevent any trauma’

“The girl has to be treated with more sensitivity than other pregnant women,” said Dr Alka Sehgal, head of the gynaecology department at the GMCH-32. “The frequency of checkups will be more in her case.”

The doctor said they will ensure that the 10-year-old is provided the right amount of nutrition and antenatal care as time is crucial. “But, most importantly, we have to create an environment where she is not traumatised,” said Dr Sehgal, adding that her parents have to be counselled on how they would be setting a precedence by helping their child give birth.

Although the doctor isn’t advising the girl to curtail all physical activity, she said it is important for her not to go to school to prevent any psychological trauma. Sources said the UT social welfare department will be arranging home tuitions for the girl to ensure her studies aren’t affected. “If need arises, we wouldn’t hesitate taking help from doctors at the PGIMER,” said the GMCH-32 doctor.

Meanwhile, Dr D Behera, head of pulmonary medicine department at the PGIMER, who also headed the panel constituted on direction of apex court said that the institute is yet to get any direction as to whether it needed to pitch in or not. Earlier, a PGIMER gynaecologist had claimed that the girl was so fragile that she could not bear the trauma of labour pain and natural delivery. “We could not let the 10-year-old undergo so much pain. So in that case we would conduct elective C-section, wherein delivery is done even before the labour pain begins,” the doctor had said.

‘Will provide legal aid, relief’

The Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Chandigarh, has been sending a support person or counsellor to help the girl and the family ever since the matter came to light. CWC director Neil Roberts said the most important aspect would be to ensure the girl’s health. “Our support person will be constantly in touch with the family. We will also provide transport as and when required,” he said.

As for compensation, Roberts said the family would get legal aid and amount would be decided once the CWC meets the father, who is still in Delhi.

The member secretary, State Legal Services Authority, UT, has been monitoring the process. All stakeholders rely on him to officially distribute the work related to the case to them. “It is premature to talk of the compensation amount right now,” said Amarinder Sharma, secretary-cum-chief judicial magistrate, District Legal Services Authority.

The DLSA will be following the victim assistance scheme to award compensation. “While we awarded Rs 10 lakh to minor rape victims in the past one year, it was on the basis of application moved by the trial court. In this case, there is a possibility of interim compensation,” said Sharma.

The Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR) plans a three-pronged approach. While the girl’s health and medical aid are the top priority, the panel will also work towards providing counselling to both the girl and her parents followed by financial compensation. “The amount will be decided once the SC judgment is officially conveyed to us. We are expecting a formal communication from the SLSA in this regard,” said a senior official of the CCPCR.

Father breaks down, mother dazed

The father of the 10-year-old girl reportedly broke down when the Supreme Court announced its decision on Friday. He was in Delhi for the hearing. Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, who had moved the PIL, told HT the father was finding it difficult to come to terma with the verdict

“He thanked me for taking up the matter, but could not stop crying,” said Srivastava. “He said he didn’t want to see the face of the baby once born. He is also worried about funds for the girl’s treatment.”

Meanwhile, the girl’s mother also appeared dazed, sitting at their house in Chandigarh. The girl, still oblivious of the situation, continued to watch TV all afternoon until the rain caught her attention.

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