Fourteen Year Old Victim Forced To Marry Her Rapist

From Huffington-Post:
A 14-year-old girl from Bareilly, UP, has been forced to marry her alleged rapist to support the 10-month old baby born due to the rape.

According to a Times of India report, the girl's father, a daily wage worker, was struggling to make ends meet. He had a loan of Rs 20,000 and eight other family members to feed, in addition to the girl and the baby. Unable to cope, and due to pressure from village elders, the father finally married the girl off to her alleged rapist, Asif, after his family gave them a letter promising that he would not leave or harass the girl in the future, or they would again go to court against him.

"Village elders and his family persuaded us that marriage will be best for all. Asif's family agreed to all our conditions," the TOI report quoted the girl's father as saying.

The girl and her 10-month-old baby moved into her 'husband's' house last fortnight.
The victim, who claims she is happy with the arrangement, said, "We had demanded financial aid from the administration to raise the baby, but we didn't get help from anywhere. My father is already under debt as he could not afford the medical expense of the child and the cost of travelling 50 km one way to appear in the court. When village elders proposed marriage, we finally agreed to it as Asif (the accused) and his family can ensure a better future for my child."

The girl and her 10-month-old baby moved into her 'husband's' house last fortnight, reported Hindustan Times.

While financial hardships played a significant part, they were not the only mitigating factors. Social pressure and ostracisation from society too played a part. The girl's father claimed that after the baby was born, his two teenage sons had boycotted them for "bringing shame to the family" and that fighting popular opinion in the village had become difficult for them.

"Samaaj se akele kab tak ladai karte... dar dar bhatakne se to achha hai ki uske ghar chali gayi (How long can one fight against the society...it is better that she has gone to his house)," HT quoted the girl's father as saying.

It was a mistake on my part for which Allah will never forgive me. I want to correct that mistake by accepting her and my child.
The pressure on the girl's family to marry her to Asif had been building ever since they filed a rape complaint against him. "We had made numerous requests to them for marriage but the girl's family was not ready. However, after they got tired and spent thousands of rupees, they gave their approval. If they had agreed to the marriage earlier, they would have saved time and money for both families," TOI reported Akeel Khan, Asif's father as saying.

Asif Khan, the accused, told HT, "It was a mistake on my part for which Allah will never forgive me. I want to correct that mistake by accepting her and my child."

The 'couple' has applied for registration of their 'marriage' before the local judicial magistrate and when they receive their marriage certificate in a month's time, it will be produced in court to quash the case.

The Aadhaar card used to register the marriage shows the girl's age as 20, not 14.
If you were wondering how the proof of marriage of a minor girl will be admissible in court, it is because the Aadhaar card used to register the marriage shows the girl's age as 20, not 14.

There is so much that is deeply troubling about this case. The fact that a rape victim's family was left with no recourse but to marry the girl to her rapist just to ensure that she and her baby were sufficiently fed, the society's approval and encouragement for this convenient 'solution', and worst of all, the failure of multiple state machineries that made all of this possible.

How is it that an Aadhaar card was procured for a 14-year-old child with the age shown as 20? In a disturbing triple whammy of crimes, this obviously illegally acquired proof of age will not only legitimise the marriage of a minor (a crime in its own right) but also help keep a child sexual abuser out of jail. The sheer impunity with which a mockery of the law is being made — a known minor with an ongoing rape case and previous pleas in three different state courts is suddenly married on the basis of an adult identity proof! — is shocking.

Under the CVCF, each rape victim is entitled to Rs 3 lakh compensation, with 50 per cent more if the victim is under the age of 14.
At present, rape victims are entitled to compensation from the state they belong to. While each state has its own compensation range, usually, it amounts to Rs 2 to 5 lakhs. In February 2016, the Supreme Court praised Goa's upper limit of Rs 10 lakh as compensation and encouraged all states to consider a uniform compensation scheme.

In 2015, the central government set up the Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) under the Ministry of Home Affairs, with an initial corpus of Rs 200 crore, to supplement each state's already-existing victim compensation schemes. Under the fund, each rape victim is entitled to Rs 3 lakh compensation, with 50 per cent more if the victim is under the age of 14.

In 2013, the family of a 15-year-old blind girl from Odisha, was awarded a measly Rs 1.5 lakh as compensation, of which they only received half.
While there are no specific laws yet about compensation for a baby born out of rape, under the existing laws alone, the 14-year-old victim and her baby should not be in such dire financial straits. The fact that she had to marry the man who admits to having raped her is testimony to the fact that the money she is entitled to hasn't reached her. This isn't new. As insufficient as the compensation often is, with the exception of a few high-profile cases, most victims and their families rarely even receive that much.

In 2013, the family of a 15-year-old blind girl from Odisha, whose rape and subsequent death due to iron rods being inserted in her vagina, was awarded a measly Rs 1.5 lakh as compensation. Despite the striking similarities to the Nirbhaya case, whose parents were awarded Rs 15 lakh in compensation, the 15-year-old's rape-cum-murder trial has still not concluded. In May this year, it came to light that the family of the 15-year-old girl had received only half of the compensation it was entitled to.

Too often, especially in the case of minor girls who have been raped, the pregnancy is detected very late.
The 14-year-old girl's case is of particular significance in the current legal atmosphere due to the ongoing debates about increasing the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and the need for fast track courts and state-wise medical review boards to provide relief to women, particularly rape victims, seeking abortions for late pregnancies.

Too often, especially in the case of minor girls who have been raped, the pregnancy is detected very late. Add to this, the process of filing an appeal and waiting for it to come up for hearing can go on for so long that terminating the pregnancy stops being a feasible option.

By the time the doctors examined her and shared their findings, it was September 12, and the girl had lost a precious 8 weeks.
In September last year, the 14-year-old girl and her parents had approached Allahabad High Court seeking an abortion. But a medical review board set up by the court decided that the termination would not be possible because the girl was already 30 to 32 weeks pregnant by the time the case was heard in High Court. The process of appeals had started in a lower court On July 26, followed by an appeal fast track rape court, and finally, Allahabad High Court. By the time the doctors examined her and shared their findings, it was September 12, and the girl had lost a precious 8 weeks.

In a similar vein, on Friday, July 28, the Supreme Court dismissed a 10-year-old rape victim's plea to abort after a medical review board declared that the pregnancy was too advanced and termination would risk both the mother and the baby's life.

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