The family of a 16-year-old girl who was allegedly forced to sell her oocytes to private hospitals, were interrogated for three hours by a six-member team from the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services (DMS) on Sunday, 5 June.
Three persons, including the minor girl’s mother, the mother’s paramour, and a female intermediary were arrested in Erode on Friday, 3 June, for forcing the girl to donate her eggs eight times at a private fertility clinic. They were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
She has now been rescued and housed at a government-run home.
Hospital Records Being Verified, Staff Quizzed
A team led by GS Gomathi, joint director of Health Services, Erode, visited a private hospital and inspected records, verified the hospital register, case sheets and date of admissions of patients, and discharges and held inquiries with the doctors and staff on Saturday.
The Erode District Additional Superintendent of Police Kanageswari, the investigation officer in the case, summoned staff from two infertility cure hospitals in Erode and from Perundurai, for an inquiry at the district police office on Saturday. The Quint tried to reach Erode South police station to know more details about the case. However, no response has been received yet.
Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said, "Based on Health Minister Subramanian's direction, an inquiry has been ordered. The director of Medical and Rural Health Services has been told to visit the hospitals named in the case and hold inquiry immediately. Upon receiving the report, we will take action against those who have a role in this issue."
The incident came to light when the girl escaped from captivity and lodged a police complaint with the help of relatives.
Investigation has revealed that the girl was raped several times in the last five years. Indirani was a regular egg donor who dragged her daughter in this racket, a police official said. A source told The Quint that the embryo was illegally sold more than eight times and that further investigation will reveal the truth.
Forced to Donate Eight Times Since 2017
The 16-year-old girl in her complaint to the Erode South Police stated that her 38-year-old mother S Indirani alias Sumiya had left her father 13 years ago. Since then, she was living with 40-year-old A Syed Ali. After she attained puberty at the age of 12, Ali sexually assaulted her many times in the presence of her mother, the complaint said.
Her mother along with her friend 36-year-old K Malathi sold her oocyte at private hospitals and fertility clinics in Erode, Salem, Perundurai, and Hosur. With the help of 25-year-old Surampatti John, they managed to procure a new Aadhaar card with a different name and 1995 as the girl's birth year.
For every transaction, her mother and Syed Ali received Rs 20,000 while Malathi received Rs 5,000 from the hospitals, she alleged. The girl was forced to donate eight times since 2017.
The minor was reportedly threatened by her mother and partner to not reveal it to anyone.
A Viswanathan, joint director of Medical and Rural Health Services told journalists that cancellation of licenses would be taken against hospitals found guilty of the illegal extraction of oocytes. Doctors, if they were complicit in the crime, will also face action, he added.
Police have already registered a case under section 5(I),(m),(n) (aggravated penetrative sex) read with other sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 along with IPC sections 420 (cheating) 506(ii) (criminal intimidation) and Section 34 and 35 of the Aadhaar (targeted) Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies Benefits and Services Act, 2016.