Komal, 15, lives in Hardai, Nagpur.
Responsibilities from a young age
Hailing from a small village in Maharashtra, 15-year-old Komal lived with her parents and her two siblings. Eldest of the three, she had many responsibilities from a very young age, mostly because of the circumstances of her family. Her father's health was poor due to tobacco consumption, so he did not do any work.
The entire responsibility of the house was on Komal and her mother. Komal and her mother used to sweep houses and Komal would go out to get wood every evening.
Since the wood was found in a forested area adjacent to the village, Komal would leave before dusk so she could return before dark. One day she realized that Chandan, a boy from her village, follows her, but she ignored him. This continued for a while until one day Chandan grabbed Komal's hand and told her that he likes her a lot and cannot see her in this condition - plucking wood from the forest.
The boy who cares
Komal thought about the boy the whole night and how he cared for her. She thought that if she would get married to him in the city, her life would become better and she would be able to take care of her father’s health in the city hospital. The next day Komal told the boy, ‘I love you too. If you take me with you to the city, can you get my father treated too?’
‘That’s such a small thing’, Chandan said, adding that he will surely get Komal’s father treated. They hugged each other. Komal was very happy. ‘But don't tell this to anyone now. Let some time pass, and I will tell everyone soon,’ he said.
They both started meeting regularly after this and came closer to each other. On the pretext of marrying her, Chandan convinced Komal to have sex and she reluctantly agreed. The sex used to cause her pain but he used to tell her that ‘love hurts’ and Komal would stay quiet.
Gone with the wind
After a couple of months, Komal started feeling weak with vomiting and nausea. She hardly ate. Her periods stopped. In the meantime, she came to know that Chandan had left the village and also got married in the city. Komal broke from inside. At the same time. upon realising that Komal is no longer asking for a cloth for her periods, her mother began asking her questions. Komal kept quiet initially but later told the whole thing crying.
Upon hearing this, her mother’s first worry was that if the news spread, no one would give them work. So she decided to get an abortion for Komal. She did not want to go to a government hospital for fear that they would not allow the abortion of an unmarried woman. She thought it was illegal.
‘Putting myself at risk’
Scared, she went to a private clinic and found out about the cost of an abortion. The doctor charged an exorbitant amount of money, telling them that he was doing them a favour by conducting an abortion on an unmarried, underage girl, as it was not allowed. ‘I am putting myself at huge risk for you’, he said.
Her mother had no other choice but to get an abortion done. She took a loan from the moneylender at a very high rate of interest and got an abortion done for Komal. She lost a lot of blood and was not given any aftercare because of a lack of funds.
Komal and her mother work extra shifts to pay for the loan, which seems never-ending. Komal was still bleeding post her abortion and her health worsened. However, since her mother did not want this news to spread so she married her off hurriedly.
Editor’s note: Abortion for unmarried and underage women is not illegal in India. For an underage girl (under 18), parental consent is required. Since Komal’s mother was consenting, this abortion was not illegal.
This story has been compiled on the basis of eyewitness accounts. This story is a part of Love Matter India’s series documenting abortion experiences in rural India for Global Day for Safe Abortion 2022. Komal’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.