CHANDIGARH, India — A 10-year old rape victim who was denied an abortion has given birth in northern India.
The girl delivered a baby girl via Caesarian section at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh, a city in North India.
The girl and her baby are in stable condition, according to Dasari Harish, one of the doctors caring for the girl.
The girl was forced to have the baby after India’s Supreme Court rejected the family’s plea for an abortion three weeks ago, based on the opinions of eight doctors and an examination of the girl.
She was 35 weeks pregnant, according to the Hindustan Times.
Her doctor said the girl didn’t know she was pregnant. Her parents told her she needed surgery for a kidney stone problem and refused to allow medical professionals to tell their child the truth, according to Harish.
Under India’s Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, the country doesn’t allow abortion after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy unless they receive permission from the courts.
The family did not approach authorities about the girl’s pregnancy until the 26th or 27th week, said Alakh Alok Srivastava, a lawyer who represented the girl’s family.
“[The] first verdict the Supreme Court made was that the pregnancy cannot be terminated at this stage based on the opinions of the medical board,” Srivastava said.
As is the case with the vast majority of reported rapes in India, the rapist was known to the victim.
In this particular case, it was the girl’s uncle, who had allegedly raped her over a period of six to seven months. A case against the man is pending.
Indira Jaising, a senior lawyer for India’s Supreme Court and a leading voice on sexual assault and domestic violence, said in July the case was indicative of the types of problems faced by people who belong to the “poorest section of the society and the remotest part of India.”
“It is a class issue. It is an issue of access to medical services,” she said. “It is an issue of access to proper information about how to deal with this situation.
“It is alarming that a medical professional did not attend to this much earlier.”
India continues to grapple with the issue of sexual assault after the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case — a particularly brutal incident that resulted in protests and a renewed debate around the status of women in the nation.
Despite attempts by the government to increase penalties for sexual assault, the number of reported rapes rose by 50 percent between 2011 and 2016.
The parents of the 10-year old girl are now looking for ways to put the baby up for adoption as they’re worried about the stigma.
“The father was saying he wasn’t willing to carry the newborn baby, not even for a minute,” Srivastava said.
India has a grim record of sexual assaults on minors, with 20,000 cases of rape or sexual assaults reported in 2015, according to government data reported by AFP.
In May, the high court allowed a 10-year-old from the northern state of Haryana who had been raped to abort her fetus at nearly 21 weeks into the pregnancy.