PATNA: The Supreme Court’s vedict upholding a woman’s sovereignty over her body and the award of compensation of Rs 10 lakh meant little to the 35-year-old rape victim from Patna who was not allowed to terminate her pregnancy although the authorities were approached on her behalf well in time.
The woman, whose mental faculties are impaired after a life in destitution, was busy looking after the baby she gave birth to a week ago.
Sindhu Devi (name changed) was due to be discharged from the ICU of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna on Wednesday, but she would have to spend another few days there. The woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl of 3.5 kg at the hospital through a caesarian section on August 11. She has been in the care of an NGO for the past eight months.
“She is yet to recover fully. She did not respond when she was told of the Supreme Court’s order,” said Rakhi Sharma, secretary of Youth Mobilisation for National Advancement (YMNA).
A YMNA field coordinator found Sindhu Devi on the streets of Patna on the night of January 25.
As per court documents, Sindhu Devi, a mother of two who was deserted by her husband ten years ago, was found to be 13 weeks pregnant in the first week of February. She sought medical termination of pregnancy in March when she was 17 weeks pregnant. But the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) turned her away because she did not have identity proof and her father who signed the consent papers failed to produce any proof of identity either.
The woman then moved Patna High Court through YMNA in April, but the court refused to allow the termination after a medical board examined and opined that it could be dangerous to her life.
Rakhi Sharma of YMNA said, “Although she is an adult, PMCH authorities refused to abort her foetus because she was not in a condition to take decisions for herself. She was very anaemic at the time and incoherent, unable to say where exactly she was raped.”
The woman’s two sons from her marriage, aged 10 and 8, live with her in-laws in Phulwarisharif near Patna. When her husband, who works in Delhi, learned in 2015 that she is HIV positive, he filed a matrimonial suit in a family court in Patna seeking to have the marriage dissolved. He then remarried.
According to Sindhu Devi’s father, she went untraced for seven years and found and taken to her in-laws’ house by the police in March 2015. She again went missing after her father-in-law’s death in March 2013.