Months after the Gujarat High Court denied her permission to terminate pregnancy, the 23-year-old Botad gangrape survivor on Wednesday gave birth to a “healthy” boy at Bhavnagar civil hospital.
As the woman is unwillingness to keep the child, it is expected that custody of the boy will given to either the Botad administration-run Sishu Gruh or an NGO.
Botad DSP Tejas Patel said: “The child will be kept under observation at the hospital for 48 hours after which he will be handed over to Botad collector S K Pandya and his office.”
A family member of the rape victim said: “It was not easy for her at all, and till the last minute of her delivery she wanted to get rid of this child. She broke down after delivery and told me that this is a child she doesn’t want to either hold in her hands nor call her own.” She was admitted to the hospital on July 1.
After the victim is discharged from the hospital, she will be taken to Ranpur in Botad district where she lives with her husband, a cart puller, and two children. A few members of the Dafer community, to which the victim belongs, have suggested to subject her to a “cleansing ritual”, said family sources.
The High Court in April this year had rejected a petition filed by the woman, seeking permission to terminate her nearly seven-month pregnancy.
The court had told the victim “to bravely go ahead with the pregnancy and when time comes, deliver the child.”, and also directed the state government to look after the mother and the child, and not let the baby be abandoned.
As per the FIR lodged with police in Ranpur on March 16, the woman was allegedly abducted in July 2014 from outside her home and raped by seven men, who kept her at different places for nine to 10 months. When the FIR was lodged, she was already 24 weeks pregnant.
Following revelation of her pregnancy, she moved an application seeking abortion in a lower court which rejected her plea on the grounds that the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act did not permit abortion in case the pregnancy period exceeded 20 weeks. The victim had then moved the HC.
SP Botad S K Gadhvi said, “We had provided her police protection after she filed a case. We had additionally appointed a woman police constable also as a liasioning officer because victim was pregnant and she could require help anytime. When we learnt that she could deliver any moment, we sent her to Bhavnagar civil hospital instead of hospitals in Botad to ensure she gets good medical attention”.
Officials of Botad district administration said they would take custody of the child if the mother does not want it. “The honourable Gujarat High Court has directed us to ensure that the child is not abandoned. Accordingly, we asked the mother if she would like to raise the baby boy. But, at this point, she is saying that she does not want the child. In such a situation, the child will be kept in neonatal ICU for 48 hours and discharged after that. At the time of discharge, we shall again seek opinion of the mother. If she does not agree, we shall hand over custody of the newborn to some NGO,” resident additional collector and spokesperson for Botad district administration Rajendra Gadhvi told The Indian Express. With inputs from Gopal Kateshiya
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