Tamil Nadu: Pregnant rape victim dies by suicide

Bhaskar Baruah

Tamil Nadu Police said on Friday that a 16-year-old tribal girl who was allegedly raped by her neighbour committed suicide after discovering she was pregnant.

They also said that in addition to the accused, the principal of the school where the girl studied (which is run by the Union ministry of tribal affairs) and the hostel warden were detained for failing to report the crime.

The girl claimed she was repeatedly raped by her neighbour in her village in Tiruvannamalai district last year while she was at home due to Covid-induced restrictions, police said.

“The girl returned to the residential school after the government lifted the restrictions, and on December 22, she passed out on the campus.” She was taken to a nearby hospital, where her pregnancy was revealed to her and the warden. The headmaster was notified, and the child’s parents were summoned. “They asked them to take her home but did not reveal her condition,” a senior Tiruvannamalai police officer said on condition of anonymity.

On January 7, the child attempted suicide after her parents brought her home. Her parents rushed her to a government hospital in Tiruvannamalai, where doctors informed them of her pregnancy, according to the officer.

“She was in the hospital for over ten days and was mostly unconscious,” the officer said.

When she regained consciousness, she revealed that she had been raped by her next-door neighbour several times and had attempted suicide after becoming pregnant. According to the officer, the girl died on January 18 while undergoing treatment.

On January 17, police said, the girl’s neighbour, the school headmaster, and the warden were arrested under sections 6 (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act, 2012, section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 based on the girl’s statement.

They also stated that the accused were brought before a court and placed in judicial custody.

“The accused neighbour claimed to be in a relationship with the young lady. Another investigating officer stated, “We have yet to determine if the relationship was consensual.”

“The girl was on the verge of finishing her second trimester… She was also positive for Covid-19 and on ventilator support, according to the officer.

On January 18, a report was sent to the Chengalpattu district tahsildar, according to Thiruvannamalai superintendent of police Allatipalli Pavan Kumar Reddy. It’s unclear whether the crime has been reported to the Union tribal ministry.

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