“7-month pregnant gang rape survivor denied a late-term abortion by the Gujurat high court in India.” With those kinds of news stories, we regularly see organizations like Amnesty International and Planned Parenthood International utilizing such stories to demand the legalization of abortion through all nine of months of pregnancy – not only for rape, but for any reason. Rape is just the key to open wide the abortion door.
But what if you learned the rest of the story? What if there is more to these stories than is initially being reported?
This particular pregnant rape survivor’s treatment is amongst the worst I’ve ever read or heard, and it completely demonstrates why abortion is not the answer, and how we need a complete cultural shift worldwide in how pregnant rape victims are treated, and how a child conceived in rape should be welcomed and accepted.
According to the petition for abortion, the married 24 year old from Botad, India and mother of two other children, alleged that her husband had abandoned her and wanted her to terminate the 28-week pregnancy at any cost. But two months later and ready to deliver, her husband stands by her and she now says that part of her wanted to keep her unborn child, but her fate and the baby’s was in the hands of 100-200 people from her community. So as with most pregnant rape survivors, she didn’t really want the abortion to begin with, but was under pressure from those close to her and from her community!
Her in-laws have shunned her, and because her husband is standing by her, he is now outcast from his own family. To make matters worse, their community is requiring her to go through a “purification ritual”or test with a tantric – a type of high priest known for black magic. Tantrics have administered “justice” in the community long before the courts and police were ever established.
Her own parents are supporting this purification test out of fear for what will happen to them and their two other yet unmarried children once she gives birth to this child conceived out of rape. If the tantric doesn’t clear her, then her siblings will never be able to marry.
The ritualistic test involves the tantric interrogating the rape victim, then testing her veracity “by taking a pinch of barley seeds from a bag and asking her to say whether the number of seeds in his hand are even-numbered or odd.” She is then repeatedly subjected to this process, including with a 10kg stone upon her head, which must remain in place until the tantric is satisfied that she is telling the truth. This ritual can reportedly take months to complete, under the belief that a Goddess will reveal the truth. If in the end, the rape victim passes the test, then no one can banish or condemn her; if not, then she is considered “impure” and is ostracized from the community, along with her extended family members.
Not only does she have to endure this grueling process within her community, she is also currently seeking help from the Chief Minister of a law enforcement agency because she says that the local police is protecting her primary rapist who held her captive for 250 days – 8 months, because he is wealthy and influential. Thus far, she has not been able to obtain justice through law enforcement. Not only has he not been arrested, but she and her mother received threats from his bodyguard. When denying the abortion in mid-April, the High Court judge did grant her and her family police protection.
In addition, the Court appointed a “Collector” to “ensure that proper medical facilities are provided,” that “the child is delivered safely” and “shall also see to it that after the delivery, the child is looked after well and is not abandoned in any manner. If necessary, the Collector can avail of the services of any NGO or any other government social organization in any manner.”
The language from the High Court is encouraging; however, India has a deplorable track record in obtaining any justice for rape victims. In fact, in February of this year – while she was in captivity, the Supreme Court of India sparked international outrage when it ruled that there is no such thing as marital rape in India – a nation where daughters are sold to the highest bidder because dowry is still practiced and marriages are commonly arranged. In the case at-hand, the rapist obtained her thumb print on a notary, and used a tantric to pronounce her married to the rapist, since they were well aware of the recent high court ruling. None of those involved – from the notary to the tantric to the multiple rapists – have been arrested or even sought and named by the local police.
Yet, while the rapist and his accomplices run free, many would argue that the innocent child should have been punished by being put to death. The relevant law in India is the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA) which does not permit abortion beyond 20 weeks, on the grounds that late-term abortions are dangerous for a woman’s health. Gujurat High Court Justice J B Pardiwala cited the fact that her life would be in peril with a 28-week abortion, then added the following: “A child in her womb by a woman as a result of conception through an act of rape is not only extremely traumatic for her but humiliating, frightening and psychologically devastating and as a human being, more particularly in the Indian society, she becomes an object of scorn and ostracisation. This is very unfortunate.”
But this Justice recognized that abortion is not the answer, and as cited above, he took the necessary steps to see that she would have solid health care, and that the child would be nurtured and protected. Therein lies the solution.
Can you imagine if instead of enacting laws with rape exceptions, legislators instead passed laws providing for special medical care for the delivery of rape-conceived children, and for the appointment of someone like the “Collector” in India who would ensure that these children and their mothers are properly cared for and not ostracized or abandoned? That’s the answer. Punish rapists, not babies and their rape survivor mothers. Protect babies and their mothers – not rapists. How hard it that to understand?
LifeNews Note: Rebecca Kiessling is an international pro-life speaker, attorney, wife, mother of 5, founder and President of Save The 1, co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception, and author of the Heritage House ’76 pamphlet “Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope.” Visit her website at www.rebeccakiessling.com