, New Delhi, India, Nov 2 – An Indian court Thursday sentenced two men to life in prison for raping their 10-year-old niece, in a case that hit headlines when her appeal for a late-term abortion was rejected, a lawyer said.
The girl, who cannot be named, gave birth in August after the Supreme Court rejected her family’s plea that she be allowed a late-term abortion on health grounds.
India only allows abortions up to 20 weeks except in cases where the life of the mother is threatened by the pregnancy.
But many child rape survivors do not realise they are pregnant until after the 20-week limit, a problem highlighted by a slew of high-profile cases in recent months.
“Both men have been sentenced to life imprisonment,” public prosecutor Atul Sethi told AFP by telephone.
He added that the men will also have to pay a fine of 300,000 rupees ($4,646) each.
The two were convicted on Tuesday in the fast-track court in the northern city of Chandigarh that wrapped up their trials in a month.
India’s justice system is notoriously slow, but the country set up fast-track courts to try sexual assault cases following a national outcry over the 2012 gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi.
India has a grim record of sex attacks on minors, with 20,000 cases of rape or sexual assaults reported in 2015, according to government data.
Almost 50 percent of the abusers are known to the victims.
The victim in the latest case gave birth in August, a month after her pregnancy was discovered when she went to hospital with a stomach ache.
By then she was 30 weeks pregnant — beyond the legal limit for an abortion — forcing her parents to approach the courts for permission.
The Supreme Court rejected the plea when a panel of doctors advised that undergoing an abortion at her stage of pregnancy could endanger her life.
Her baby was later delivered via caesarian section and given to child welfare authorities for adoption.