Wadala minor's rape: Not just abortion, hospital delayed rape probe as well

After delaying the girl’s wishes for an abortion by nearly a month, Nair Hospital also violated the law and refused to provide the police with basic equipment to transfer the foetus for DNA testing

A 15-year-old girl, already traumatised after being threatened by her rapist and his mother, has had to face further distress because of the apathy at Nair Hospital — not only had the hospital dragged its feet while terminating the resulting pregnancy, but it severely violated the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) by refusing to provide basic equipment to carry the foetus for DNA testing, asking the police to source it themselves.

Cops also alleged that Nair Hospital hampered investigations by delaying the MTP. File pic
Cops also alleged that Nair Hospital hampered investigations by delaying the MTP. File pic

The teenager was forced to carry the foetus for a month after the pregnancy was discovered because the BMC hospital had delayed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP). Not only did this expose her further emotional trauma and increase the danger in the procedure, but it also hampered the police investigation, which needed samples for DNA testing.

mid-day had carried a report about the girl’s plight (‘Rapist threatened pregnant 15-year-old to keep mum’, December 16). She was raped 15 times over a span of eight months and threatened into silence by her former boyfriend and his mother. The survivor’s mother noticed she had turned aloof, and took her to an NGO working for women and children’s welfare on December 9.

It was there that the girl fainted and was then taken to Nair Hospital and confirmed to be three months pregnant.

The girl requested an MTP, and even though the doctors had a five-day window in which to fulfil her wishes, they failed to do so. Then the teenager was diagnosed with chicken pox, which meant she would have to wait until she had recovered before the abortion could take place. Although a medico-legal case was registered and the cops arrested the girl’s 19-year-old ex-boyfriend Deepak Solanki, they have had to wait all this while for the foetus to be extricated, as the DNA test could be clinching evidence against the accused.

After the MTP was finally carried out on Sunday, a female police constable was sent to collect the foetus and transfer it to the State Forensic Laboratory at Kalina for DNA testing, but the hospital refused to provide a tray or an icebox, both of which were required as a sterile container for the sample. Under POCSO and the Code of Criminal Procedure, hospitals are required to provide all necessary equipment and treatment to rape survivors free of cost and swiftly.

However, the doctors simply said they did not have the equipment and told the cops to get it themselves. The officials then spent R250-300 to buy the icebox and tray, and ferried the foetus to the lab.

“The doctors were making us feel as if it’s a family member we have brought for treatment. We followed all the procedures, but it is not out responsibility to buy such basic equipment for the hospital,” said Investigating Officer Sunil Kadam from Wadala TT police station, adding that the hospital had already paralysed the investigation by delaying the MTP.

Kadam said the police had had a better experience with Sion Hospital, which is the recommended centre for treatment of rape survivors. “We have had a good experience with Sion Hospital, which does not take more than two days to complete all the procedures. The lethargy of the Nair doctors has delayed the investigations,” he said.

The Other Side
Speaking to mid-day, Dr Asha Dalal, professor and head of department (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) said, “We attend the minor cases of sexual violence with utmost sincerity, and I can say with certainty that the delay in MTP must’ve taken place due to the medical condition of the girl or consent of guardians. I will have to check about the police’s allegations that they were asked to buy the equipment. Since I wasn’t there at the time of the admission of the girl, I will consult my subordinates about the same.”

'Shameful'
A medical expert from a BMC hospital said, “It’s a shame that a tertiary care hospital doesn’t have basic amenities. All such equipment is issued to the hospitals on a regular basis, and in female sexual violation cases, the hospital is supposed to bear the cost of treatment and medication.”

Penalty
POCSO guidelines for the medical care of rape survivors clearly states: ‘Section 23 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which inserts Section 357C into the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, provides that all hospitals are required to provide first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of a sexual offence.’ Violators can be punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to a year or both.

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