abortion in bihar
Shutetrstock/yogendrasingh.in/Person in the photo is not Sarita. Names changed.

‘Do you want the whole village to know?’

A minor girl is legally allowed to undergo an abortion with her parent/guardian’s written consent but not many people working in the health sector, especially in rural areas, are aware of the rule. Sarita, a 14-year-old from Bihar, was denied an abortion at a government facility because Asha didi thought she did not want to get into something ‘immoral and illegal’.

Sarita is a 14-year-old girl in a Bihar village. 

Teenage love

Sarita, a 14-year-old school-going girl from Bihar, loved playing and studying with her friends. She was the youngest of four siblings and the most pampered one. Her elder brother recently got married and she is close to her bhabhi too. During the wedding ceremony, Sarita was acquainted with her bhabhi’s brother Mahesh, who then started frequently visiting their house. 

Mahesh and Sarita grew fond of each other and soon started spending more time together. He was a year older than Sarita. Sarita was a friendly person, who would love to talk to new people and make friends with them. Being a teenager, she started getting physically attracted to Mahesh. The feeling was mutual. Mahesh started living in their house for longer times and during that time, they both began to have feelings for each other. 

Sex will grow our love

As the relationship grew intense, Mahesh tried to convince Sarita that if she had sex with him, their love will become stronger. Sarita was naive to the whole idea of safe sex or pregnancy. She wanted to please Mahesh at any cost because she loved him so much. Hence she agreed to have sex with him. They both would have sex with each other whenever they got a chance or were alone at home. 

Their clandestine affair continued for a couple of months and as expected, Sarita missed her periods after four months. She also started feeling a bit weird and awkward but she was not sure with whom she should share this. One month down the line, her stomach started showing and her mother became suspicious of her behaviour. She asked her to share what was bothering her but Sarita did not utter a word. Meanwhile, Mahesh had exams and he went back to his village. 

The truth about her periods 

Sarita’s parents threatened her and behaved harshly because they wanted to know the truth. She broke down and told everything that was going on between him and Mahesh for the last couple of months. Her mother was petrified. She did not know what to do. She first slapped Sarita for what she had done but then started thinking of a way out. It was something that she could not even share with anyone in the village. 

After crying her heart out and talking to her husband, Sarita’s mother could only think of one person whom she could approach for this problem - Asha didi from the Anganwadi. She took Sarita there and she confirmed her pregnancy. 

‘Illegal and immoral’

Sarita’s mother wanted to get her daughter’s abortion as soon as possible as the pregnancy was not in the early stages. Asha didi advised Savita’s mother to not go to the government hospital because Sarita was underage and there is not much privacy in the government hospital either! 

‘The whole village will come to know about your daughter’s pregnancy. Do you want this? It would be better if you take her to a private hospital and get the abortion done’, Asha didi recommended. 

She lived in a very small village where there were no abortion clinics or hospitals. On Asha didi’s advice, after being denied an abortion at a government hospital for fear that she might be doing something illegal  (and immoral), Sarita was taken to a private hospital in the city, where the doctors charged a huge amount from them to get the secret abortion done.

Meanwhile, Sarita has been grounded. She is not allowed to go to school and spends most of her time home doing the chores at home and taking care of her siblings. She is clueless about what happened to her body and why was everyone just blaming her and not Mahesh. Was he not equally responsible for this physical pain and mental trauma she was facing? 

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. Sarita’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 Sarita and the names have been changed. 

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