In a remarkable show of fortitude, a 16-year-old girl from Mangalore, who was sexually assaulted by her father and subsequently impregnated, earned a first class in the recent Karnataka Secondary School Leaving Certificate (Class 10) exams scoring 360 marks, reports the Times of India (ToI).
The girl was eight months pregnant when she appeared for the SSLC exams and was given all the necessary support by the district administration which had also undertaken special arrangements for her, reports ToI.
“This success has brought her happiness amid the trauma. She is content with her achievement, and is yet to decide her next step as she’ll deliver a child in another two weeks,” said an official of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to the publication. Among other agencies that also aided her were the education department, CWC and the local police.
“The incident came to light when the survivor and her mother approached the government hospital for an abortion. However, it was late as she was six months pregnant. Medical termination of the foetus would put her life in danger. Doctors, who learnt about her being sexually assaulted, filed a case with police,” said Renni D’Souza, the president of CWC, to ToI.
Following the registration of a case against her father under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), the 16-year-old was sent to the district child protection unit for counselling and rehabilitation.
Authorities there spoke to her about the process of putting her child up for adoption and writing exams, for which she received extensive tutoring. Subsequently, she found the necessary courage and determination to appear for her exams. After initial hiccups with the issuance of a hall ticket, she wrote her exams.
“We weren’t sure whether she would go to the centre and write the exam because she was still under trauma. A counsellor accompanied her to the centre,” added Renni.
This remarkable show of courage and determination, however, brings to light another unfortunate statistic. According to data presented by the National Crime Records Bureau, of the 64,138 child rape cases that came up for trial under the POCSO Act read with the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 376 (punishment for rape) in 2016, the conviction rate was just under 3%.
In 94% of the cases of rape against women and children in 2016, the perpetrator was either a family member, neighbour or a known acquaintance of the victim.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)