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Allahabad high court passed a landmark judgement when it held that children of rape victims can have access to ancestral property of the rapist or biological father.
In a recent judgment, the Allahabad High Court has held that children of rape victims can have access to ancestral property of the rapist or biological father. The Allahabad bench consisting of Justice Shabihul Hasnain and Justice D. K. Upadhyaya, gave this well thought out judgment in the light of a petition filed by a 13-year old rape survivor.
The bench said that the rights of inheritance to the property of a biological parent are a complex Personal Law right which is guided by either legislation or custom. No norm or principle currently exists for inheritance in cases of minors or rape victims and it is not adequately covered by legislation; it is a pressing matter considering the number of such cases is rising. The court, thus, leads the way in highlighting and demanding action to fix a current grey area in the legal system.
The minor, in this particular case, couldn’t undergo an abortion because she was too far along in her pregnancy. Part of the reason for this was because she was threatened to keep it quiet by the accused. However, her family argued to give up the child for adoption. This wish was granted. In this particular case, the court said that the child will not be eligible for the ancestral property but the legislature will be well advised to take this matter into consideration.
The court has set the precedent in dealing with proper social and economic rehabilitation of the rape victim into society. But to lead a normal life, the victim requires much more than just that.
However, it is important to take into consideration the other social support the victim will require for her wellbeing. Support doesn’t and cannot stop at only ensuring the girl can go back to school and finish her education. This is only a tiny part in her larger well being. Giving up her child for adoption will not be easy. The minor will require counseling and other forms of emotional support to deal with her decision. The father of the rape victim expressly mentioned that the child born from the rape will not be allowed within the house. Statements like these also come from the stigma society attaches to rape. It is also unclear right now from reports how much of the girl’s opinion has been taken into account before making these decisions.
The rape victim will have to deal with stigma of the incident along with her own trauma, even if details of her case have been kept confidential. Additionally, since she went through the entire pregnancy and delivery, she will need medical aid to recoup from the incident. But in our country, finding the necessary medical and legal aid to recover from rape is much easier than emotional and mental support needed for full recovery.
This is paramount in the case of minors who have their whole life ahead of them. Returning to school can be an ordeal for her; the trauma of being raped, threatened and then forced to not talk to someone is additional baggage. It is also evident that inadequate access to sex education and timely abortions means that minors who have been raped have to live through their pregnancies.
The court can, and has rightly so, thrown light on the necessary legal provisions required for a rape victim and child born out of the rape to be fully rehabilitated into society. But there is still onus on society and concerned groups to provide the necessary healing for the girl to make a full recovery. Ensuring the right to a life of dignity for rape survivors is not easy. In order to ensure she can “continue her life”, we need to deal with the emotional turmoil of both the rape as well as the trauma of giving up the baby.
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