News

Volume 6 Issue 13 - December 15, 2009

‘Want daughter to be a doctor, to take care of me.’

D.N.I.S News Network, India: In our previous issues we had carried stories on a young mentally retarded woman who was raped at Nari Niketan, Chandigarh. The U.T. administration had fought the case tooth and nail insisting that the mentally retarded pregnant mother should not be allowed to give birth to the child stating that she would not be able to take care of it considering her unsound state of mind. The administration pressed for an abortion, which was thankfully ruled against by the Supreme Court.

On December 3, the young woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl and she is coping very well with motherhood. What is surprising is that as vehemently opposed as the Chandigarh administration initially was to the birth of the child, post delivery there is a change of heart!

Following is a story that appeared in The Indian Express. We reproduce it here for D.N.I.S. readers.

Like any young mother, she dotes on her newborn daughter and hopes that the baby will grow up to become a doctor. But her journey to motherhood has been far from normal. When she gave birth on December 3 —World Disability Day — Sheila (name changed), who is in her late teens and mentally challenged, had crossed hurdles she could barely understand.

Not only had she been raped and impregnated at the Nari Niketan here, the Chandigarh administration had convinced the Punjab and Haryana High Court that Sheila was not capable of looking after an infant and that the child would be a “toy” to her. That Sheila had been firm in her resolve to keep her baby was barely taken into consideration when it was ordered that her baby be aborted in the seventh month of pregnancy. A Supreme Court order, however, overturned this verdict.

Today, doctors at the Government Medical College and Hospital (G.M.C.H.) are pleasantly surprised at the ease with which Sheila has adapted to motherhood.

“I am her mother. I will make sure that she grows up to be a doctor. Doctors are good human beings who alleviate the pain of others. No one has ever taken care of me. She will grow up and take care of me,” she says as she burps her baby, whom she has named Pari (Fairy), before putting her to sleep. When asked who taught her how to do these tasks, she replies, “I took take care of an inmate’s baby at Nari Niketan. She was my best friend.”

But Sheila’s experience at Nari Niketan — a Centre for destitute women — was nothing short of a nightmare. “I don’t ever want to go back,” she says. It was there, as investigations and subsequent High Court judgments have shown, that she was repeatedly raped by three of the staff members of the institution in connivance with two female staff members who would beat her into submission. The child’s paternity will be known only after D.N.A. tests.

Even as offers of help from various social institutions and philanthropists pour in, the Chandigarh administration has decided to take full responsibility of the child and the mother. “All the expenditure of the child, mother, education, upkeep would be borne by the administration until the child completes her education and reaches adulthood,” says Anupam Gupta, senior standing counsel for the Chandigarh administration in this case.

Next week, the mother and child will move back to Ashreya. “She is looking forward to that. She is very particular about the needs of baby and doesn’t like it if we hold her for long periods,” says Sonu, an attendant. As one leaves her room, Sheila says goodbye but not without a reminder to “bring sweets for Pari next time”.

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