They pressed my belly till the fetus came out, says 16-year-old

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Old 04-Sep-2016
Miss Alone
They pressed my belly till the fetus came out, says 16-year-old

Heena Khan is certain that she's seen jehanum (hell). "How else do you describe writhing in pain for over eight hours as someone held your legs down and another pressed your belly till the foetus in your womb gave up," asks the 16-year-old. Heena does not remember what happened after that.
When she regained consciousness it was 4am and daylight was about to break in Bulandshahr. Her baby was wrapped in a black cloth and put into a plastic bag. She remembers her brother Firdaus, 20, trying to take her home but the self-professed "Dr'' Urmila -popular in this small town for her "delivery skills" -reportedly said no. Heena's family owed her Rs 2,500 of Rs 6,000 promised for 'pet ke safai' (abortion). Till they could pay, the girl was under lock and key.

"It was then that I called the police," Firdaus recalls. A panicked Urmila, whose clinic was in a two-storeyed house, let her go. Firdaus and their mother Shehnaaz Khan, carrying the seven-month-old baby in a plastic bag, were taken to Kotwali Dehaat police station on August 29.
Two days later, at the Babu Banarsi Das government hospital in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, about 75km from Delhi, Heena stares out of the window vacantly. She is still dizzy and in pain, rubbing the marks of injections on her hands. Heena alleges that she was raped twice, and beaten up over several months by a neighbour, Mohammed Yunus, 20.
"I was too scared to say anything to my family. He threatened me, beat me," Heena says. It was only when she started showing signs of a growing belly that Shehnaaz got suspicious and took her to the village quack (known as "Dr'' Bijender) in Bhaipura, a few kilometres from the main city. The family went to Yunus's home and confronted them. His mother allegedly forced Heena to go to the "abortion centre".
Kotwali Dehaat station officer Rameshwar Kumar says, "We have lodged a complaint against Yunus, his mother, Bijender and Urmila. We have arrested Urmila on grounds of illegal medical terminal of pregnancy." The police has charged them with rape and illegal abortion, and under the Pocso (Protection of Children against Sexual Offences) act. The other three are on the run, and the police think Yunus may have returned to Ahmedabad, where he used to work as a welder.

Though the room used for deliveries in Urmila's clinic has been sealed, busi ness has just shifted to other rooms.Half a dozen women wait in the small hall lined with benches two days after the arrest.
Urmila's daughter-in-law Rajeshwari Rajpat claims her mother-in-law has been charged wrongly."The woman came with the foetus' head stuck and legs out. The girl had to be carried. She was in so much pain. My mother-in-law decided to help them. She didn't ask for money. The girl is being forced by someone to say these things," Rajpat says.

Heena may have survived the risky illegal abortion, but across the country quacks pretending to be qualified doctors and performing crucial procedures is common. Government records peg the number of abortions in the country at 6 lakh a year, but these numbers are significantly low, say experts. US-based Guttmacher Institute is conducting a study on the incidence of abortion in India, but provisional estimates place it at 11.2 million. A bill (Medical Termination of Pregnancy amendments bill) that proposes training mid-level workers like auxiliary nurse midwives may be useful in preventing deaths and destroying young lives. The bill is under the consideration of union health ministry.
Dr Sara Bano, who treated Heena after the illegal abortion, says many abortions go wrong. "Many take overthe-counter abortion pills and then come here with excessive bleeding or other complications," she says.

Ipas Development Foundation executive director Vinoj Manning says, "Our studies show that in India nine women die due to unsafe abortion every day. The proposal to train and support nurses and ANMs to dispense abortion pills is probably the most positive policy change since abortion became legal in India 45 years ago. The proposed law will revolutionize abortion care for rural and poor women by bringing a trained and safe abortion provider closer to their community."
Names of the rape survivor and her family have been changed to protect identity

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