India's restrictive abortion laws in cases of rape have been put under the spotlight again after a girl was found to be pregnant when she underwent obesity tests. The child is about 12 or 13 years old and lives in Mumbai, the capital of the western state of Maharashtra.
The girl, shocked after hearing the news of her pregnancy, has reportedly retreated into silence and is refusing to share the details of her suspected assailant.
"She has not told us who is responsible for the sexual assault or where it occurred. The incident occurred at least seven months ago," a senior police officer told The Times of India newspaper. "Our officers went to the hospital to meet the girl. Her mother is the complainant in the FIR [first information report] and we have recorded her statement."
The national Child Welfare Committee is now working with the child to try and identify the suspected rapist . "After the girl gives a statement to the [committee], they will inform us. The accused will be arrested once he is identified," the officer added.
Meanwhile, Mumbai police have registered a case of rape against an unidentified person under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
The girl's family reportedly became aware of the pregnancy after they took her to a doctor earlier in the week to find out why she was becoming obese. They suspected she was suffering from thyroid problems. However, an ultra sonography revealed that she was 27 weeks pregnant, local media reports.
Abortion laws in India do not allow terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks and so, the girl's family is preparing to approach the country's Supreme Court. The case has re-ignited the debate over the country's abortion laws in cases of sexual assault.
Dr Nikhil Datar, a gynaecologist who is assisting, said: "We are waiting to procure all the legal documents before approaching the Supreme Court. The final decision will be taken by the court."
Recently, a 10-year-old rape victim in Chandigarh in northern India was denied abortion by the court after pregnancy was detected in the third trimester. The court consulted a doctor's panel who concluded that aborting the foetus would be too dangerous, considering the age and the state of pregnancy. Delivering the baby would be equally dangerous for the young girl, her family and child rights activists argued.