India 10-year-old child rape victim in abortion plea

A panel of doctors has met in India to discuss the case of a 10-year-old rape victim who is seeking an abortion.

The girl was repeatedly raped by her stepfather and is due to give birth in about four months, police in the northern town of Rohtak told the BBC.

He has been arrested and detained pending a full police investigation.

Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless the woman’s life is in danger. The girl’s request for an abortion is for the courts to decide.

The tough law was introduced to fight India’s skewed gender ratio. A deep-seated cultural preference for sons has led to millions of female foetuses being aborted over the years by pregnant women after undergoing foetal gender testing.

In recent months India’s Supreme Court has received several petitions, some from women who were raped, wanting to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks. The court has always referred the matter to medical experts.

In the latest case in Rohtak town in Haryana state, doctors from the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) met to discuss the family’s request to allow the child to have an abortion.

They confirmed the girl’s pregnancy.

“The police and the authorities will now take the report to the court which can order whether the child can undergo an abortion,” Dr Ashok Chauhan, medical superintendent at PGIMS, told the BBC.

He said the case for a termination was “borderline”.

“She is around 20 weeks pregnant, but it could be 19 weeks or it could be 21 weeks. The technology is not so advanced that it can tell you exactly what week she’s in.”

The pregnancy came to light last week when the 10-year-old’s mother, who works as a domestic helper, suspected her child was pregnant and took her to see a doctor.

Reports said the girl was often left at home when her mother went to work. She told her mother that she had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather, who had warned her not to say anything.

The stepfather was arrested after the mother lodged a police complaint, senior Rohtak police official Pankaj Nain told the BBC.

 

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