The news travelled around the world: the child refused an abortion by both a district court in Chandigarh and the Supreme Court of India, in both cases on the grounds that abortion was too risky at 28 weeks and then again at 32 weeks, was delivered by c-section last week and will be kept in hospital for some 10 days. Although the hospital was reported to say that the child and the 2.2kg premature infant were both “doing fine”, the facts are other: The girl was put through major surgery. She was told a large stone had to be removed from her stomach. How will she feel when she is old enough to know better? Her abusive uncle is in prison. Her parents are shattered from the discovery of the abuse, the publicity the story generated and two failed court cases in which the girl’s interests were the least important item on the agenda and the facts about the safety of abortion at 28 weeks of pregnancy were absent.
The statistics on the scale of sexual abuse of children in India speak for themselves. The BBC reports that according to UNICEF and Indian government data:
> A child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours
> More than 10,000 children were raped in 2015
> 240 million women living in India were married before they turned 18
> 53.22% of children who participated in a government study reported some form of sexual abuse
> 50% of abusers are known to the child or are “persons in trust and care-givers”.