THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Monday morning Childline director Fr P.D. Thomas received what has now become a routine call from SAT Hospital. A 15-year-old girl who was five months pregnant has been admitted to the hospital, he was told. The immediate future of the girl is now in Fr Thomas’ hands. He will have to decide whether the girl should be taken back home after treatment or whether she should be moved to a shelter home. An even more complex task awaits him: he has to mollify the parents of the girl who had by then reached the Childline office in Thampanoor.
In the last four months, this is the seventh case of ‘school girl’-pregnancy that Fr Thomas and his team had to deal with. “These incidents can be technically called rape because the girls involved are minors, all below 16. But the truth is, these pregnancies are the result of romantic liaisons,” Fr Thomas said. Since April 2016, Childline had intervened in 53 cases grouped under the heading ‘child sexual abuse’.
“But a good number of them are love affairs between young men and minor girls,” Fr Thomas said. The men are mostly daily wagers, auto-drivers, unemployed youth roaming around in superbikes and Bengalis (a general term for other-state labourers). “These chaps, mostly between 23 and 25, bait only high school students, not girls in higher secondary who are generally more mature and thoughtful,” Fr Thomas said.
Shockingly, it has been found that in virtually all the cases the lovers meet inside the home of the girl. “After coming to know of the affair, it is usual for parents to accompany the girl, or keep an eye on her, wherever she goes. The home, it turns out, is the safest place,” the Childline director, who regularly provides counselling to ‘victims’, said. More than the school girls who get pregnant, it is the children they bear who will be scarred for life. The child will be taken away from the mother, and given for adoption. It will not be even breast-feed.” Fr Thomas said.