Fourteen-year-old girl gave birth to a child in the bathroom of her school in Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka on 25 August.
When she enrolled at the MM Hills Morarji Desai School for tribal children for Class 5 in June, she was seven months pregnant.
Strangely, the staff claim that they did not know she was pregnant until they heard the baby cry after the delivery. Adding to that, no one wondered to ask her why she was coming to school in a long skirt and blouse and a shawl instead of school uniform.
The girl is a Soliga girl, was admitted in the Chamarajnagara Government hospital, several hours after she delivered the baby.
On 30 August, a tired and exhausted girl was sleeping with the baby on a bed in the waiting room in the SNCU war
Surprisingly, her mother knew about her pregnancy.
“The father of the baby, Shivu, is my relative and we have been in love for a couple of years and only my mother knew about my pregnancy” said the girl.
“I didn’t tell my father because he would have killed me. He often behaved violently. When my mother asked me to kill the child, I said I wanted to keep it. But my mother asked me to kill it once it was born and not bring it home” added the 14-year girl.
“About half-an-hour before the delivery, I heard some screams, but I thought it must be just the kids crying or fighting. When I was about to start cooking, Shruthi (a teacher) came running to me and asked me to go to the room where the girls slept. They asked me to drop everything and go and assist the girl. But by the time I went there, the girl had given birth in the toilet.” said Kempamma, the school cook.
“These schools come under the Social Welfare Department. The focus is on overall development, but they aren’t staffed enough with people having expertise in education. Many under-trained staff are being appointed as teachers and wardens in these schools” said Ashok Kumar, Member, Samagra Grameena Ashrama Samiti (SGAS).
SGAS is an organisation working towards development of tribal schools in the state.
According to the rules, school children are also supposed to have regular medical check-ups. Warden said that no doctor had visited the school in nine months. While other staff claimed that a nurse had visited, no medical records have been maintained for any of the students.
A case of rape has been registered against Shivu (20) under POCSO. He has been sent to judicial custody, and the Women and Child Welfare Department have taken the baby in their custody.
Around the time, the girl gave birth to the baby in school, the media reported that the state government planned to erect a statue of Male Madeshwara atop the MM Hills at a cost of Rs 21 crore. Perhaps an equal amount of attention should be paid to those who live in those hills.