Pregnant at fifteen? No moral issues. Unmarried and pregnant at fifteen. Degeneration of society.

Rahmath and Unpretentious_Diva mentioned this news in comments to the previous post.

“MUMBAI: The fifteen-year-old girl who is six months pregnant is oblivious to the uproar her ‘condition’ has created not just in her family, but her neighbourhood in Borivli (E). She’s crushed by her boyfriend’s refusal to take responsibility and marry her, but is determined to raise her child and not give it up for adoption, which her parents have been urging her to do.” [Link]

Followed by,

“The girl’s parents, who are roadside vendors, approached the police who arrested the boy on charges of rape, as the girl was a minor.”[link]

The comments that follow the news article discuss,

1. Need for sex education. It seems in this case both the partners were aware of the risk of pregnancy and social stigma for the girl, that was why the boy had promised to marry the girl.

But anyway, sex education is not just about avoiding pregnancy, but also about the responsibilities involved [Link].

2. Modern culture and degeneration of values. The general belief seems to be that unmarried teenage pregnancies do not happen in traditional societies.Wrong! (Strangely, irrespective of whether sex was consensual or not, or the parents capable of raising the child, married teenage pregnancies are not seen as a moral concern, click if you disagree. And more here.)

Facts: Unmarried pregnant girls are frequently ‘honor killed‘ or the boy is forced to marry the girl. It becomes almost impossible for the girl to get married to anybody else if her pregnancy is not kept a secret. Condemnation for the girl is almost universal. this can also lead to death “A clandestine, and irresponsible, affair may prove dangerous. A city girl learnt it the hard way,”. Death (for the girl) is often seen as an honorable solution.

3. The 17 year old boyfriend’s responsibility.

Should consensual sex with 17 year old boyfriend, who lied and behaved irresponsibly, be seen as rape? He bought abortions pills and pregnancy kit for the girl, so he was not ignorant. He also promised to marry the girl, so he was aware of the social repercussions the girl might face. His parents also don’t want him to marry the 15 year old.

4. Should both the parents share the responsibility of raising the child now? Should the father or in case he is a minor, his parents, pay child support?

Let me share three comments below this news article.

1.

When people talk of segregation of sexes,dignified dressing and moral policing,Women organization are in the forefront to oppose it. Again when the woman is suffering they are blaming the boy for it,total hypocrisy.

2.
There are traditional Indian women who will not agree for pre-marital sex under any circumstances. Then there are Modern Indian woman- who agrees to pre marital sex, goes for live-in relationship, unwed motherhood, sexual experimentation…… off course the modern women, as compared to traditional women always wins the race for boy friends, costly valentine gay gifts, more flowers on birthday…. but every woman must understand that they are taking some risk which traditional women is not taking. You cant expect reward only. Modernity may be rewarding, but it has its own inherent risk……. and just dont blame men if your risky strategy didnt work out. A boy friend, or a sex partner or somone gave you flowers are not bound to marry you. May be, pre marital modernity of women is most repulsive part of marriage sanctity.

3.

Well, the boy’s actions are not exactly honourable. First he gets her pregnant by insisting on unprotected sex, next he tries abortion, and finally starts avoiding her! Are you saying the boy should be allowed to shirk his responsibility? If he got her pregnant, he should support the child along with her, whether he eventually marries her or not. Ideally, of course, he should marry her, but the least he should do is to support the child. Or are you saying that the girl should face the burden on her own?

Related posts:

What would Taliban say to Juno?

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

When life ends at 12.

If she was born somewhere else.

Sex Education has nothing to do with Blue Films.

No second chances for an Indian daughter.

Irresponsible girls who throw away their lives while in throes of lust for the completely wrong person…

Don’t let me down dear daughter!

A clandestine affair may prove dangerous, a city girl learnt it the hard way.

Karishma’s mother could have been saved too.

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If she was born somewhere else.

Just when I blogged about our attitude towards mothers, in cases of teen pregnancy, here’s another horrifying piece of  news,

To save herself from the ignominy of being a unwed mother, a 16-year-old girl left her two-hour-old baby girl to die at a park… near a water tank wearing minimal clothes. The child was bleeding and even the umbilical cord had not been properly cut. Following pressure from her family members …after the baby was born around midnight, she took her baby from her sector 5 residence and left her near the water tank at sector 9, [Click to read details]

Another news article says,

There were blood stains all the way from the spot till the door of her house,… the girl’s condition was bad as the baby had been delivered at home. She was taken to BK Hospital, where she is currently under treatment. The police said the girl’s mother told them that her daughter had had an affair with a boy in the neighbourhood, who later refused to marry her when she found that she was pregnant” [Click to read more]

A third news article says,

A 16-year-old girl was arrested for allegedly abandoning her day-old baby girl after giving birth on Wednesday nightA case under Section 317 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 9 police station. [Click to read more]

Why isn’t the father arrested? Isn’t he equally responsible?

This must be traumatic for a 16 year old.  Do we have special laws to handle such cases?

The way I see it, she must have found herself isolated. She needed medical and emotional support. Instead her family let her go out two hours  after the delivery to abandon the baby, bleeding and cold.  The baby had turned blue when she was found. They probably did not know that they could give the baby up for adoption.

What if the trauma, physical and emotional, and the postpartum depression drive her to suicide?

Is that a solution? A  moral lesson to all the other immoral girls perhaps, because the last line in one news article said,

There has been a growing number of such incidents in Faridabad town with five pregnancies out of wedlock reported in the past three months.”

To some Indians that is the biggest concern here.

For anyone who says the 16 year old is at fault, I would say if she knew or understood the consequences of what she was doing, she would have at least used contraception. We do not think a 16 year old can drive, drink, vote, marry or take decisions, but we are ready to arrest her and blame her for being a victim of ignorance and bad judgement.

And what about the father?

Perhaps the parents feel they had no choice. And now who would marry a girl with a baby, bad reputation and a police record?  (And goes without saying, No Marriage No Life, for an Indian woman).

Now would it not have been lucky for this girls if she was born in the West?

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

Link received by email.

“There were 71 pregnancies per 1,000 U.S. girls aged 15-19. In 2006, 7 percent of all teenage girls got pregnant…”

Teen pregnancies are often quoted as an example of the degeneration of the US or the Western culture. Are teen pregnancies unheard of India?

I don’t think so. The difference is that most teen mothers in India have no choice or control over their pregnancy or their bodies. A lot of them are undernourished and are under pressure to give birth to male children.

“According to official figures, over 68% girls in the state (Rajasthan) are married by the age of 18.”  (And the Rajasthan government wants to register child marriages, making it tougher for the couple to get out of these marriages. They should be helping them make informed choices!).

A college friend’s mother once told us how she slept through her marriage ceremony, she was too young to stay awake. But she was not from Rajasthan, she was from Tamil Nadu.

My new maid says her 17 year old daughter in law has grown up to be taller than her son, they had not expected this when they married them in their mid-teens, but it doesn’t bother them, there are many such couples in their village, near Lucknow, in UP.

Another 25 year old domestic helper in Pune had three kids, 9, 7 and 5. She said was born the year Ms Gandhi died in 1984, so how old was she when her first child was born?

I have blogged about another domestic helper, married at 12, to a 20 year old unemployed man (Maharashtra). She supports three kids and an alcoholic, sick but violent husband. She asks her mother now, if she and sisters were really so much trouble that the mother had to get rid of them so cruelly.

Yet another one in Punjab was married as a kid to a much older, abusive man but she escaped, came back home and refused to go back.(I blogged about her, here)

Each of these women are unhappily married. They were pregnant in their teens. They live with verbal and physical abuse. Many of them are working more than they should, each of them is underweight (none more than 40 kgs) and most of them are earning.

Compare this to teenage pregnancies in the US. The girls are not necessarily married. They are unlikely to be forced to get married.

They can choose to have the baby or abort the baby – their health will be a huge consideration here, and a priority.

Despite the disapproval, they need not kill themselves to save their families’ honour.

They can continue to meet new men, maybe marry, maybe work, maybe live on their own, maybe live with their parents.

Their culture doesn’t like teenage pregnancies either, but it doesn’t abandon or ostracise one of the two responsible for these pregnancies.

So why do we think, are the teenage pregnancies in the west bad, and teenage pregnancies in our country fine?

Is this because these teen mothers are married? Does that really benefit the mother or the child? Perhaps the mother  has a father’s name to give to the child? (Can’t think how else it could be better for the mother or the child since they seem to have very little emotional or financial support). I would say the mother’s name is (and should be, specially in such cases) enough for the child. Mahabharat supports this. E.g.Kaunteya/ Kunti-Putra. Where ever the law doesn’t support the mothers, it should. Neena Gupta and Sushmita Sen are both single mothers and doing fine.

Secondly even if we ignore that most Indian teenage mothers are undernourished and miserable, what kind of life are these married (with parental approval) teenage mothers likely to give to their children? They have little  say in the children’s lives. I would say Juno made a much better and far more confident teenage mother.

And most importantly it’s the mother’s body and her choice. In India she has no rights over it. Just like she has no rights over anything else in her life. Or even a right to her own life.  How can a culture claim to respect women and mothers when it forces them to abandon helpless babies in garbage heaps simply because they are not married to the father!

Or else they can always take their own lives to prove their respect for a culture that doesn’t respect or value them.

Edited to add:

Link to this post was shared by ‘The Wall Street Journal’ here.

Link shared here, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/marie-staunton/mothers-day-a-30yearold-g_b_1353850.html