'Imposing rape survivor motherhood denies her right to live': HCtext_fields
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court observed that imposing the responsibility of motherhood on a sexual abuse survivor amounts to denying her the right to leave. The court passed a long series of guidelines for medical examination of such survivors in case of pregnancies exceeding 24 weeks, PTI reported.
The court observed that forcing the survivor to deliver a child born out of sexual assault would serve her severe miseries. Cases, where such assaults end up in pregnancy bring more trauma since the shadow of the tragic moments lingers with her every day.
The court was dealing with a case where a 14-year-old sexual assault survivor sought medical termination of her 25-week pregnancy when the permissible limit was 24 weeks.
"It is not in dispute that a female invariably has a right to make reproductive choices and decisions which are concerned with her bodily integrity and autonomy," it said.
"The child herein is a victim of rape. Termination of pregnancy in cases like the present one cannot be reduced merely to be defined as the right of a woman sexually assaulted, but also to be recognised as a human right, as it affects the dignified existence of a victim if the same is not permitted."
"It is not the privacy of the rape victim which is invaded by sexual assault, but her body is wounded, and her soul is scared. It would not be appropriate to expect the minor who is a rape victim to take the burden of giving birth and raising a child, especially in a situation where she herself is passing through the age of adolescence," the court said.
It added that doing so will amount to asking a child to give birth and raise another child.
The court asked the girl to appear before the competent authority of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on Friday for a medical termination.
The High Court noted that crucial time is lost in the process of passing orders for medical examination of the sexual assault survivor by a medical board in case of 24 weeks or above of pregnancy which further endangers her life. The court then passed the guidelines for the investigating officials to follow.
The court's guidelines mandated a urine pregnancy test at the time of medical examination of a survivor of sexual assault. If the survivor is a major and gives consent to initiate Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP), the probe agency must produce her before the medical board on the same day.
The court said, "In case a minor victim of sexual assault is carrying the pregnancy, upon the consent of her legal guardian and desire of such legal guardian for termination of pregnancy, the victim will be produced before the such board."
Post examination, the report should be placed before concerned authorities, and a judicial order is sought on MTP. The concerned court must not lose time and must pass the order fast.
The court said that as per Section 3(2C) and Section 3(2D) of the MTP Act, it is mandated that the state government or Union territory has to ensure that medical boards are to be constituted in the hospitals.
"The court is informed that such boards are not available in hospitals in each district, causing inconvenience to the investigating officers as well as to the victim at times who has to be taken for MTP and for further examination," it said.
It directed the state government to ensure that such mandate of sections 3(2C) and 3(2D) of the MTP Act are complied with and that such boards are constituted in all government hospitals which have proper MTP centres, and it should be mandatory to have such boards constituted beforehand.