Rani, 51, is an auxiliary midwife and nurse in Jaunpur, Bihar.
Rape by whom?
It was early and I was in a rush to reach the Anganwadi after completing my household work and sending the kids to school. I decided to take a shared auto, instead of a bus. The moment I sat in the auto, I saw Raju and his daughter. I knew Raju. He was from a nearby village. The moment he saw me, he became a little nervous. He was with his daughter, who was crying.
I asked what was wrong. They did not tell me the details in the auto for fear that others might hear, but he mentioned that they were in trouble and wanted my help. We waited till my destination. The moment we got down, the daughter, Ritu, who must be around 22 years old, said she had been raped by her jijaji and was now pregnant. I was shocked and asked how far along she was in the pregnancy.
'Why did you wait?'
The father said she was almost three months pregnant. ‘When the rape took place so long ago, why did you not inform the police earlier? Why wait for so long?’ I asked.
The father had no answer. I looked at Ritu.
‘We were just scared of the police’, she said.
‘But why carry the pregnancy till three months?’ I asked
She was quiet.
‘Does your mother know?’ I asked and Ritu’s face became colourless. As if she might have seen some ghost.
‘No, her mother is very strict. She does not know’, Raju intervened.
A lot more complex
I could sense something terribly wrong. My heart sank as a thought crossed my mind. Was it possible the father was raping the daughter and the mother was completely unaware?
And now that Ritu was pregnant, the father had to bring her for an abortion.
Since Ritu was unmarried, I did not want to get her into any legal problems. I advised Raju to go to a private hospital and get the abortion done. I did not hear from them after this.
I met Raju after a couple of months again and asked him about Ritu’s health. He pretended nothing wrong had ever happened to her and she was fine. I just hope she is.
Editor’s note: This story has been compiled on the basis of eyewitness accounts and thus all the details are hard to corroborate. This story is a part of Love Matter India’s story series documenting abortion experiences in rural India for Global Day for Safe Abortion 2022. Ritu’s story shows that abortion is a need for many women whose pregnancies have been caused by heartbreaking circumstances and even while it is a legal option available to women, it is often not an easy service to access.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.