A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant and has been refused an abortion is at the centre of a media storm in India. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey travelled to the northern city of Chandigarh to piece together her story.
“We have seen lots of cases of teenage pregnancies involving 14 to 15-year-olds, but this is the first ever case that I have seen of a 10-year-old,” said Mahavir Singh, of the Chandigarh State Legal Services Authority.
Mr Singh has been involved in a case which has shocked Chandigarh and the rest of India, that of a 10-year-old girl who became pregnant after allegedly being repeatedly raped by a relative.
That relative is now in jail, pending trial.
The girl in question has been described as a happy child who smiles easily. She’s shy and not very talkative. English and mathematics are the favourite subjects of this class six student. She loves to draw and is pretty good at it. She can’t get enough of her favourite cartoon shows Chhoti Anandi (Little Anandi) and Shin Chan. She loves chicken and fish – and ice-cream.
But on 28 July, India’s Supreme Court rejected a petition – filed on her behalf – to allow her to abort, on the grounds that at 32 weeks, she is too far into her pregnancy. A doctors’ panel had advised the court that a termination at this stage would be “too risky” for the girl, and that the foetus was “doing well”.
The court order was a huge disappointment for the girl’s family.
Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors certify that the mother’s life is in danger.
But in recent years, the courts have received several petitions, many from child rape survivors, seeking to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks. In most cases, these pregnancies are discovered late because the children are not aware of their condition. (Courtesy BBC)