JAIPUR : An uncertain future awaits a 10-day-old girl lying in a government hospital in Udaipur. Her mentally-challenged mother died while giving birth to her on a roadside as the ambulance didn’t arrive on time when she was in labour. The baby’s only relative – her maternal grandmother – has refused to take her into custody saying she can’t afford to keep her. As the grandmother has also not given her consent, government officials have not been able to initiate process of the baby’s adoption and are in a fix about her future.

Bhagawat Singh, a member of the child welfare committee in Udaipur, said the new-born presents a daunting tale of poverty. “Her 35-year-old mother Meera was a mentally challenged woman. She used to roam around and have food at temples,” Singh said.

He highlighted that Meera’s mother live in a slum area in the city, however she did not stay with her.

“She would sleep on pavements. It seems someone exploited her situation and raped her. She got pregnant. Some passers-by heard the woman screaming near Gangaur Ghat about 10 days ago. They soon realised that the woman was in labour. They called for ambulance, however, by the time it arrived, she had given birth to the baby. Due to excessive bleeding, she had died,” the officer said.

A police officer who is investigating the case said according to the people trying to help the woman, the ambulance didn’t arrive even half-an-hour after being informed.

Singh said Meera was admitted to the hospital. The woman’s mother was so poor that she could not afford the final rites of the body. “A social organization collected money and consigned Meera’s body to flames,” the officer said.

Police said it was yet to be ascertained whether Meena got pregnant after being raped on the pavements.

Singh, however, said, “In most cases of mentally challenged women getting pregnant, it comes up that someone took advantage of their situation and raped them. These women don’t even realise that they are pregnant.”

He further said the baby’s grandmother did not accept the child. “She says she can’t afford to keep the child. Besides, she is yet to give us her consent to initiate the process for the baby’s adoption,” Singh added.

Another 8 kids share same fate

Jaipur: Uncertainty also prevails over the future of at least eight children – aged below one year – who were born of mentally-challenged women with no family in Udaipur. As the mothers of these children are mentally challenged, they cannot legally surrender their children to the child welfare committee (CWC) for adoption process. They also can not keep the babies with them due to their mental state. Officials said even if these women give their consent, it is not legally va lid.

“This loophole in the Juvenile Justice Act has cast a shadow over these eight children. There are several such children in the state for whom adoption process could not be started,” said Bhagawat Singh, a member of the child welfare committee in Udaipur.

Singh added that these eight children all below one year of age are in various child shelter homes.

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