An inmate of a state-run home for rescued women has accused its officials of trying to force her to undergo a medical termination of her pregnancy. The 20-year-old woman, a Myanmarese national, was rescued from traffickers in 2012, and later married her rescuer, a Bhiwandi resident.
The woman’s advocate, Archana Rupwate, said that on Saturday, the woman was taken without her consent, or that of her husband’s, to a clinic for an abortion. Rupwate, from the Human Rights Law Network, said the woman was first taken to the Ulhasnagar Civil Hospital and then to a local hospital in Bhiwandi, about 60 km from Mumbai.
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The woman has been in the state-run facility called Shanti Sadan in Ulhasnagar for nearly two years. It has emerged that her husband often visited her inside the facility — a claim denied by an official of the women’s home.
“The woman told me that the officials at the facility told her to undergo an abortion or else her husband would be booked on rape charges,” said Rupwate, who served a legal notice on the superintendent of the rescue home, Nanda Ghoderao, stating she could not force the woman to undergo an abortion. The woman’s 22-year-old husband told The Indian Express that once the notice was served, officials at the facility appeared to reconsider and returned.
“They tried to scare her by saying they would get me jailed if she did not abort the child,” said the man, who claims to have married the woman according to Islamic law. Ghoderao refuted the allegations saying nobody compelled the woman to abort. She also claimed that the woman frequently left the facility on the pretext of being ill and may have met her husband outside. “They did not take her anywhere,” she said, speaking to The Indian Express over the phone. She, however, confirmed that the woman was 42 days pregnant. She said appropriate action would be initiated. “The police will decide on future course of action,” she said.
Principal Secretary of the state’s Women and Child Development Department Sanjay Kumar said he was not aware of the case. “Unless I see all the facts and examine (them) as per law, I cannot say anything,” he said.
The woman was originally rescued from traffickers in 2012, after which she married one of her rescuers and lived with him in Bhiwandi. Two years ago, a dispute with her neighbour led to her nationality being discovered by local authorities. Following this, it was also found that she had been trafficked from Myanmar by her brother-in-law and sold to a pimp in Mumbai for Rs 30,000. She was admitted to the Ulhasnagar institution while she awaited repatriation proceedings.