sonam abortion
Shutterstock/Yury Birukov/The person in the photo is not Sonam. Names changed.

‘But this is illegal’

The Supreme Court allows women in India to get an abortion without marriage, but is this law known to everyone in our country? Especially those who are working in this field - like Asha didi, Anganwadi workers and other people who are in a government hospital? Even today, when an unmarried girl comes to get an abortion in rural India, she is told that it is illegal. When 18-year-old Sonam from a small village in Bihar recently went there for an abortion, the same thing happened to her. Let's read his story.

Sonam, 18, lives in a village in Bihar.  

First love  

Sonam,18, who hails from a small village in Bihar, used to take her goats to the nearby fields every evening. When the goats were grazing, she would walk around or read books. Sometimes she had some friends with her. Her parents were poor and they used to make a living by grazing goats or by doing daily wage labour. 

One day when Sonam went out as per her routine, she felt that someone was following her. But who - she could not make out! This lasted for about a week until she spotted a guy. It was 18-year-old Naseem, who lived in her locality. Naseem used to sit and watch her.

Although Sonam was uncomfortable at first with Naseem’s glances, after some time she started liking the attention. Slowly Naseem also started trying to sit near Sonam and when the goats were grazing the grass, they would sit together and talk and kiss each other. One day Naseem expressed her love for Sonam and told her that he loves her a lot! 

Let’s elope 

Would you marry me, Naseem proposed to Sonam. She reciprocated positively but was sceptical that her parents might not agree to marry her to Naseem. Naseem then shared his plan to elope.  Sonam was initially hesitant to run away from her home but at the same time, she wanted to be with Naseem. The reason could be any - her teenage love or naivety - Sonam agreed to elope with Naseem. They both left their homes after three days. Everyone tried to check their whereabouts but had no success. 

Sonam’s family found her after a month and brought her back home, along with Naseem. However, Sonam’s family strictly instructed her not to talk to Naseem. After a couple of days, Sonam’s mother found out that her daughter is pregnant. She felt very disturbed and hurriedly sought help from the Asha didi in their village. 

Illegal? 

Asha didi told Sonam and her parents, 'Unmarried abortion is wrong, illegal and can lead to punishment. Such abortion for unmarried women is not done in a government hospital, so they will have to go to a private hospital. If the girl is ready to have an abortion, then get her aborted quietly in a private hospital.’ 

On hearing this, Sonam's mother got her daughter’s abortion done in a private hospital but no one asked Sonam what her wish was nor was Naseem blamed for what he did to Sonam. 
 

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. Sonam’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 not Sonam and names have been changed. 

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