CHANDIGARH – A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant and has been refused an abortion is at the centre of a media storm in India.
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“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.
The case of a heavily pregnant 10-year-old girl denied an abortion after allegedly being raped by her uncle has sparked a huge media storm in India.
Her situation has caused frenzied press interest, with India’s Supreme Court rejecting appeals for a late-term abortion.
Her father has accused journalists of profiting from her misfortune. He told the BBC: “The press have turned this into a business enterprise.”
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, only recently discovered she was pregnant after complaining of pain in her abdomen.
Lawyers representing her family applied to India’s top court for a termination, but doctors claimed it would be too much of a risk for the girl, who is 32 weeks pregnant.
Abortions in India are not allowed after 20 weeks unless a mother’s life is in danger.
Her distraught family have accepted the decision but are angry at the media interest in her situation.
Speaking to the BBC, her father said: “I want [the alleged rapist] to be severely punished. He should get the death penalty or be locked away for the rest of his life in prison.”
But he also asked: “Why are you advertising my daughter’s case? The media have turned this into a business enterprise.”
In India, a child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours.
In this case, the child is said to still be unaware that she is carrying an unborn child, and believes her bulging stomach is because of a big stone.