THE Botad gang rape survivor gave birth to a healthy child at the Bhavnagar civil hospital on Wednesday. The rape survivor was earlier denied permission to terminate her pregnancy by the Gujarat High Court following which she gave birth to the child.
The 23-year-old victim was taken to Bhavanagar civil hospital on July 1. She was under medical care at the hospital for last one week.
A family member close to the 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”.
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.
The victim who belongs to the Dafer community has to now undergo the process of Shuddhi to “clean herself from the sin”. According to the community’s traditional practices, the victim has to keep a 10 kilograms heavy stone on her head and stand at the village square.
This stone is removed from her head only after the community’s deity (Mataji) will indicate that she is now ‘clean’. If the victim cannot ‘pass’ this test to prove that the rape was committed on her without her consent, she and her family fears of even getting ostracized, her family members said.
The community observes this procedure only with women against whom they reportedly have suspicion of “having relationship with men before marriage” and those whose husbands have suspicion on them. The women are also made to wear a garland of shoes and while “giving this test”.
The Gujarat High Court in April this year had rejected a petition filed by the victim, who had sought permission to terminate her nearly seven-month pregnancy. The court 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.
Botad Deputy SP Tejas Patel said, “The child will be kept under observation at the hospital for 48 hours after which the child will be handed over to Botad Collector S K Pandya and his office”.
The victim had denied taking care of the child following which it was decided that the district government will take care of the child. The child is expected to be kept in the Shishu Gruh under the disrict government or a NGO who is willing to take care of the child.
As per the FIR lodged at the Ranpur police station in Botad district on March 16, the victim was allegedly abducted in July 2014 from outside her home and gangraped by seven men who kept her at different places for nine to 10 months. When the FIR was lodged she was already 24-week pregnant.
She moved a petition seeking abortion in a lower court which rejected her plea on the ground that provisions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA) don’t permit abortion in case the pregnancy period exceeded 20 weeks. The victim had then moved the application to the HC.
SP Botad SK Gadhvi said, “We had provided her police protection of guards 24/7 after she filed a case. We had additionally appointed a woman police constable also as a liasoning 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”.
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