The Other Rape Survivor in Chandigarh Who Gave Birth to a Girl
In 2009, a girl child, Pari, was born to a rape survivor. How are she and her mother doing today?
While the repeated rape of a 10-year-old by her own uncle for months has shocked Chandigarh, something equally unsparing happened here almost a decade ago. In 2009, a 19-year-old mentally challenged woman was raped multiple times in Nari Niketan, a government run home for destitute women.
In both cases, it was the impending pregnancy that brought the brutal crime to light.
Mentally Challenged Rape Survivor’s Fight to Have Her Child
The staff at the Nari Niketan took advantage of the woman's vulnerable mental health by raping her repeatedly.
Planned connivance was at play. Some kept watch at the door as she was being raped in a bathroom. The ‘gang’ included two women and multiple men who raped her. However, her bitter experience with government-run institutions didn’t end there.
The Chandigarh administration argued in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to terminate her pregnancy. They claimed the mentally challenged girl would think the child is a toy. The High Court agreed directed termination.
All nine involved in the crime were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and are currently in jail.
Pari is almost 8 years old today and she and her mother are healthy, together and well.
Pari and Her Mentally Challenged Mother
They both live in Ashreya, a home for the mentally-challenged in Sector 47 in Chandigarh.
There were concerns about how the mother, who had been diagnosed with borderline intelligence, will take to motherhood after fighting a tough legal battle for months. But over the years, she has proved most doubters wrong.
She is employed in the kitchen at Ashreya with the tag of ‘Assistant Cook’ that she wears with pride. She likes cutting vegetables. She does need supervision and someone accompanies her when she steps out of the home, but she is at peace with the norms and routine that she is required to follow.
"The mother and child live together and the mother has adjusted well to motherhood. You can see she is concerned about her daughter. She buys her things whenever she can," Child Welfare Committee chairperson Neil Roberts confirmed to The Quint.
Dr BS Chavan, who heads Ashreya, also clarified that along with the mother, there are others involved in taking care of the daughter, including nurses, counsellors and wardens.
Chavan said the aim is to give both as normal a life as possible. One of the court rulings was that Pari’s needs would be taken care of by the Chandigarh administration.
Pari has a teacher for singing and dancing. She also has a tutor for homework. We take her to parks close-by to help her interact with kids outside Ashreya as often as we can. She also plays with children of the staff.
Life Beyond the Walls of Ashreya
As of now, she has not asked anyone about her father, but the staff is anticipating the question soon.
Chavan, who is also a senior psychiatrist at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32 in Chandigarh said:
The staff that have brought the child up in the last 8 years are worried about how she will handle these questions beyond the safe walls of Ashreya.
“Here everyone knows, but outside, who will be sensitive?” Chavan said.
Then and Now
Unlike Pari’s mentally challenged mother, who was given a chance to stand up for what she wanted, the 10-year-old in Chandigarh doesn’t even comprehend what is happening with her. She has no control over what happens to her or her offspring in the future.
Pari’s story, and that of her mother is markedly different from that of the 10-year-old who is now in the eye of the storm. But there are some learnings. The biggest one being the long and tough road ahead for the surviving mother and child. And for them, to live a life with dignity will require family members, institutions and public servants to do their bit with sincerity.
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