Once it was normal for girls to marry at a young age and deliver a child before they turned 17, a Gujarat High Court judge has remarked while hearing a minor rape survivor’s plea for permission to terminate her pregnancy.
While indicating that he might not allow the petition if both the girl and the foetus were healthy, Justice Samir Dave also referred to the Manusmriti during the hearing on Wednesday. The rape survivor is 16 years and 11 months old and carrying a seven-month-old foetus.
Her father has moved court seeking permission for abortion as the pregnancy had crossed the 24-week threshold up to which abortion can be performed without a court’s leave. On Wednesday, his lawyer sought an early hearing, saying the family was concerned because of the girl’s age.
Justice Dave said there was anxiety because “we are living in the 21st century”.
“Ask your mother or great-grandmother. Fourteen-fifteen was the maximum age (for marriage), and girls used to give birth to their first child before turning 17. And girls get mature before boys.... Though you may not read, but you should read the Manusmriti once,” he added. PTI