Are women and child development officials already in the process of deciding the fate of the unborn child of the rape victim in the Vidyavati Ashram case? If sources are to be believed, the women and child development officer has made the 13-year-old victim, who is expected to deliver in a few days, sign a document stating that she wants to relinquish her child.
Child Welfare Committee members, who have the authority to accept relinquishment deed from parents who wish to do so, have allegedly been kept in the dark about these developments. Reacting on this matter, Anita Vipat, a Child Welfare Committee member, said, "At first, we need to confirm if it is really true? And if it is true, then it is certainly not right. The baby is not yet born and, moreover, its parents have equal rights to decide about its future. Just one of them cannot take the decision. Besides, to figure out who is the father of the child a DNA test is necessary."
House of shame: The Vidyavati Ashram, where the rape came to light last year. file pIC
According to ashram sources, the murky development happened a few days ago at the general hospital where the girl is admitted for delivery. The sources said District Women and Child Development Officer Suvarna Pawar asked the girl to give in writing if she does not want to rear her child.
Expressing deep shock over this development, child rights activists said that the DWCD officer was misusing her powers. She has no right to make the victim sign such documents as it come under Child Welfare Committee members' jurisdiction.
Anjali Pawar, director of Sakhee, said, "This is horrible, it is government's responsibility to provide safety and care to victim and her child till she becomes adult. The government is just shying away from its responsibility. And considering that officer is not ready to wait even till the birth of the child, we have reason to doubt what vested interest does the officer have in doing so."
Dr Yamini Adbe, a human rights activist, too echoed Pawar's sentiments. "This is shocking. And the kind of haste the government is showing in this case, it seems they are trying to hide something."