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Eleven-year-old rape victim gives birth to baby boy

  Mother doing fine‚ newborn in critical condition

RAJAN BHATTARAI

BIRATNAGAR: An 11-year-old girl, who had been pregnant after being raped by her neighbour about seven months ago, has given birth to a baby boy.

Suren Bishwokarma, in his 40s, had raped the minor from Khudunabari, Jhapa, at her house when she was alone. “He came in, showed me a knife and forced himself onto me. He also threatened to kill me and my parents if I told anyone about what he did to me. I kept quiet for the fear that he would kill me and my parents,” the victim, a third grader at a local school in Khudunabari, told THT.

She gave birth to a 1.2-kg baby boy this morning at Koshi Zonal Hospital, Biratnagar, after 28 weeks of pregnancy. The hospital said the mother’s condition was normal but the newborn has been listed in critical condition for premature birth. Dr SN Jha at the hospital said doctors were doing their best but chances of the baby surviving were slim for he was born only after 28 weeks of pregnancy.

The victim’s father lost his eyesight about eight years ago and her mother is the sole breadwinner in the family of four. “We did not know about the rape until the day I noticed abnormally large belly of my daughter. It was beyond our imagination that a man of her father’s age could do such a sinful act,” said the mother who crushes stones on a river bank for her family’s livelihood. “Attempts were made to settle the issue at a meeting of village leaders, but in vain.” According to the victim’s mother, the perpetrator had pledged to bear the abortion expenses and transfer 15 dhur of land in the name of her family but later went back on his word and started meting out mental and physical torture to the family. “We took her to BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan on May 9, but the hospital said it was too late for abortion.”

The victim was later dropped at ABC, an NGO, in Biratnagar. The NGO yesterday admitted her to the hospital after she started having labour pain.

All that the victim’s family owns is an unregistered plot of six kattha and a small shanty. “My daughter has survived; for me this is the greatest thing,” said the mother.

ABC Chairperson Bishnu Sharma said a DNA test to establish the baby’s father will be conducted. “We will send her to school once she fully recuperates, and we will fight for her rights on her behalf,” Sharma said.

The perpetrator Suren Bishwokarma, however, has been on the run since he learnt that the victim was admitted to hospital. Bishwokarma, a school bus driver in Shanishchare, has a college-going son and a seventh-grader daughter.


Punishment or fatherhood ?


KATHMANDU: Rape of an 11-year-old girl and victim giving birth to a baby as a result have given rise to multiple legal questions.

Victimologist Shankar Kumar Shrestha says invoking Child Rights Act may address the civil rights of both the mother and baby, but it would be insufficient. According to him, prosecuting the perpetrator only will not be enough, as it would end in punishing the rapist and would not deal with compensation and rehabilitation (of mother and child).

“In such cases, the girl is forcefully made the mother, therefore the rights of the victim(s) must be addressed while punishing the perpetrator,” Shrestha says.

Women rights activist and former lawmaker Sapana Pradhan Malla says today’s incident — in which an 11-year-old rape victim from Khudunabari, Jhapa, gave birth to a child in Biratnagar — proves that the existing penal provision of up to 16 years in jail for the rapist is not sufficient. She demanded that the Act should be amended and the punishment should be increased to life imprisonment.

“There should be life imprisonment for such crimes,” says Malla. In the new Criminal Code, it has been recommended that sentence for life imprisonment should be up to 35 years.

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