SIX DAYS after the stepfather of a 10-year-old was arrested for “repeatedly raping” her, an eight-member board of the Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak has decided that the victim, who was “20 weeks plus-minus two weeks” pregnant, will undergo an abortion.
But for the victim’s mother, that solves only a part of her problem. She wants her husband to be released, too.
“If my husband is jailed, where will I go? Iski zindagi toh barbaad hai, par baaki bacchon ka kya (The girl’s life is destroyed but what will happen to my other children)? I need to think about their future, too,” says the mother, pointing to her daughter, who is sitting cross-legged next to her on a single bed in the labour room of the PGIMS hospital.
A little over four feet, dressed in an orange t-shirt and maroon tights, her hair tied in two ponytails, the victim lifts her top when her mother mentions her name. When told that she doesn’t need to show her stomach, she lets out a yawn and lies down again, without saying a word.
“Tell them what happened,” urges her mother, but the 10-year-old hides her face behind her.
“A week ago, I was leaving for my village in Bihar with my daughter when the police came. I wanted to get her abortion done in the village. I didn’t know she would accuse my husband, I thought someone from the neighbourhood was responsible for the crime,” says the mother, who hails from Tilak Tajpur village in Sitamarhi, and has been staying in Haryana’s Rohtak for the last five years.
The victim is second of her four children — her eldest daughter is 15 and another daughter is six. Her youngest child, a son, is four years old. The mother, in her “late 20s”, works as a domestic help and her husband, 20, works at a plywood factory in Rohtak. The couple together earn Rs 15,000 a month.
Huddled with the 10-year-old and her son in the hospital room, with at least six other patients and three babies squeezed in two beds, the mother says she “cannot believe that her husband has done such a thing”.
“My ex-husband was an alcoholic and died when we were in Bihar. Suresh was his younger brother and married me. All my four children were very young then. Many of our relatives worked in Rohtak and we came here to make a living,” she says.
“On the day he was arrested, Suresh apologised to me profusely and said ‘Hit me with your slippers if I do this again’. I want him to be released and my daughter’s child to be aborted,” she says.
The family lives in a two-room rented accommodation near a residential complex in Rohtak. “One of my employers told me that my daughter’s tummy is swelling and so I took her to a local clinic, where I was told that she was five months pregnant,” she says.
“A few years ago, she (the victim) fell from the roof of our house and hurt her head. Since then she speaks very little and has problem concentrating. She studied in Class 3 in the local government school but hasn’t been attending classes for the past 4-5 months. Her teacher said that she can’t keep up with the students. My other children are very intelligent,” she says, as the 10-year-old listens intently, while her brother, who is lying in his mother’s lap, begins to laugh.
The case had put the doctors at PGMIS in a difficult situation, because abortion in not allowed after 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
“After being directed by the local court, our team of doctors examined the victim. There could be complications both in delivery and abortion. There can be uncontrolled bleeding, in some cases the wounds don’t heal, sometimes there are side effects of medicine, etc. But we took a decision and submitted our report to the police,” says Dr Ashok Chauhan, the medical superintendent of PGMIS.
“We have been informed by the hospital board that the victim will undergo an abortion, and it should take place in the next few days,” says Inspector Garima Devi, the investigating officer in the case.
“An FIR under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was filed against the accused on May 10 and he is now under arrest. The victim’s mother is the complaint in the case,” says Devi, the Rohtak Mahila Thana officer.