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‘Dear reader, put yourself in the position of a child raped and denied an abortion’

I am a 14-year-old aspiring human rights activist and this is why I believe in women’s and girls' right to safe abortion in cases of rape.

Savita Halappanavar memorial, Dublin, Ireland 2018. Savita Halappanavar memorial, Dublin, Ireland 2018. Photo: lusciousblopster/Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.I am a 14-year-old aspiring human rights activist and I support women’s right to safe abortion. 

Abortion is a very complicated topic, as there is no black or white; there is an infinite amount of shades of grey in between. Many people across the world are anti-abortion and pro-life. Some believe that abortion is murder and women should not be given that choice, but I believe this is problematic and unfair because there are many cases when a woman should have the right to terminate a fetus.

Firstly, women can suffer serious health risks from unsafe abortions or if they are forced to continue a pregnancy. Every year, from South Korea to Nicaragua, 70,000 women die from an unsafe abortion.

Recently, in India, a 13-year-old girl was raped by her father's colleague, who has been imprisoned. Dr. Nikhil Datar, a gynaecologist, says, "Her pelvis is not fully developed to carry a baby to full term and she will go through physical and mental trauma if she's not allowed to abort. There are definite risks to her health. It will be more troublesome for her the longer it's allowed to continue." This evidence shows how destructive the health impacts could be. No one deserves this.

"Her pelvis is not fully developed to carry a baby to full term and she will go through physical and mental trauma if she's not allowed to abort.”

Secondly, abortion should be permitted if a girl is raped because the mother may not be able to provide for her child (financially). An example of this is when a 10-year-old girl gave birth in India. She was raped several times by her uncle, who was arrested. Luckily, in India, abortion is allowed, but she was too young to understand that she was pregnant until her pregnancy was visible to others. The law states that abortion will only be permitted after 20 weeks if the mother's life is in danger.

Neither the supreme nor the lower court gave her permission to terminate the fetus, as they believed it would hurt the girl. But, this 10-year-old isn't old enough to raise a child. Her family doesn’t have the money to support both children.

A lawyer, Alakh Alok Srivastava, filed a public interest petition claiming that the mother and fetus were both in danger. This is one of many petitions concerning child rape and abortion which have been filed to Indian courts in recent years.

Candlelit vigil for a child victim of a gang rape, Delhi, India 2012. Candlelit vigil for a child victim of a gang rape, Delhi, India 2012. Photo: Ramesh Lalwani/Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0. Some rights reserved.The final reason why I believe abortion should be permitted if a child is raped is that serious emotional effects can occur. There is no need to explain how terrible a crime rape is. In an interview with me, lawyer Praneeta Sharma explained that child rape is a disgusting way for (usually, but not all the time) men to show power and violate (usually, but not all the time) women.

In India, there have been cases of children being raped by their uncles, fathers, stepfathers, brothers and other people who may have power over them. 50% of the time, in India, child abusers are known by their victims.

I discussed this topic with feminist activist Ruchi Tripathi who said, "If a child is raped, and their health is at risk, the life of the mother is more important, as she is the one who is alive, who has suffered tremendously physically and emotionally.”

“The fetus is not a child until it's born in nine months – whereas the child will suffer if she is forced to deliver the baby, both physically with her body not being able to cope, as well as emotionally to be responsible for another life – or to live with knowing that her child is somewhere out there if it’s given up for adoption.”

Tripathi concluded: “Her family/doctors/governments must put the girl’s health and wellbeing first."

Many people identify strongly with religion (prominent in Nicaragua and Ireland) and therefore do not support abortion. They think abortion is murder, even though the fetus is inside of the mother. I understand that some religions don’t support abortions and people can't be culturally insensitive, but women's rights should come first.

Overall, abortion should be allowed and accessible for women who have been raped, because women should have the right to choose what happens to their body and life, they may not be able to provide for a child and there are various negative physical and emotional effects from giving birth to an unwanted fetus.

“Imagine that you live in a country that has a total ban on abortion and you feel stuck. The options you have are to have an illegal, unsafe abortion, or give birth.”

Dear reader, I urge you to put yourself in the position of a child who has been raped. Imagine that you live in a country that has a total ban on abortion and you feel stuck. The options you have are to have an illegal, unsafe abortion, or give birth. Unfortunately, you don’t have the financial support for either one of these options. You would be shunned from society for having an abortion, and you may hurt yourself. The baby (if born) would be a constant reminder of your violation and you cannot support him/her.

In addition to this, it has been proven multiple times that restrictive abortion laws don’t decrease the number of abortions; they just cause more unsafe, illegal ones.

At first, I wasn’t very educated on this topic. I was caught in between pro-life and pro-choice. After doing extensive research and interviews, I leant more towards the pro-choice side, but realised there shouldn’t be two sides, because I believe abortion is a human right.

About the author

Esperanza Meraki is a pseudonym. She is a 14-year-old aspiring human rights activist in South Africa.


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