India

India uncles get life for raping niece, aged 10

India rape protest Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Campaigners say 50% of abusers are known to the child or are "persons in trust and care-givers"

A fast-track court in India has sentenced two men to life in prison for raping their 10-year-old niece, who gave birth to a baby girl in August.

Both men were the child's uncles. They were convicted of raping her on Tuesday.

The girl's pregnancy was discovered in mid-July when she was taken to hospital after complaining of a stomach ache.

The second uncle was arrested after the baby's DNA sample did not match that of his older brother, the first suspect.

The older uncle's trial took a month, while the younger uncle was convicted in a remarkable 18-day trial.

The harrowing case of the 10-year-old victim has made headlines for weeks, both in India and globally.

She was 30 weeks pregnant when a local court in Chandigarh turned down her abortion plea, on the grounds that her pregnancy was too advanced. A panel of doctors had advised that a medical termination would be "too risky". Later, India's Supreme Court also refused to allow her an abortion on similar grounds.

Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors certify that the mother's life is in danger.

The girl was not aware of her pregnancy, and was told her bump was caused by a stone in her stomach, says the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi. She gave birth in August and the baby was given away to child welfare authorities for adoption.

The girl initially told police and child welfare activists that she had been raped several times in the past seven months by the first uncle, who is in his 40s.

She had also testified to the court by video link and very clearly named the uncle and revealed details about her abuse.

The girl's father had told the BBC that the first uncle had not denied the charges against him. Police also said he had admitted to the allegations.

But after his DNA test results did not link him to the baby, police began searching for more suspects - and arrested the second uncle in September. A DNA test confirmed that he was the baby's father.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption India is home to 400 million children (file picture)

India's courts have received several petitions in recent months, many from child rape survivors, seeking permission for abortions.

In most cases, their pregnancies are discovered late because the children themselves are not aware of their condition.

In September, a 13-year-old girl was given court permission to terminate her pregnancy at 32 weeks. The boy she was carrying was born alive in Mumbai but died two days later.

In May, a similar case was reported from the northern state of Haryana where a 10-year-old, allegedly raped by her stepfather, was allowed to abort. She was about 20 weeks pregnant, doctors said.

None of the girls can be named for legal reasons.


The scale of abuse in India

  • A child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours
  • More than 10,000 children were raped in 2015
  • 240 million women living in India were married before they turned 18
  • 53.22% of children who participated in a government study reported some form of sexual abuse
  • 50% of abusers are known to the child or are "persons in trust and care-givers"

Sources: Indian government, Unicef


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