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The humaneness of a society is determined by the degree of protection it provides to its weaker members, it is said. The Nari Niketan rape case and others similar show that it would be difficult to term Indian society humane.

A few months ago a 19 year-old mentally challenged girl, was raped in Nari Niketan- a state- run institution in Chandigarh. She subsequently became pregnant.

The Director, Social Welfare, Amandeep Kaur, kept on insisting that nothing could have ever happened at Nari Niketan.

Two security guards working at the institute were remanded to judicial custody on charges of rape.

The MTP act prohibits terminating a pregnancy that has continued for more than 20 weeks. The girl is in the 20th week of pregnancy. So The Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the Chandigarh Administration to “promptly and forthwith” medically terminate the pregnancy .
 
The judgement reads- “We find that the victim is neither intellectually nor on social, personal, financial or family fronts able to raise a child. We are satisfied with the reports that the victim is incapable of understanding the concept of motherhood or of pregnancy or pre and post-delivery implications. Asking her to continue with the pregnancy and, thereafter, raise the child would be a travesty of justice ….

A Delhi- based advocate filed a petition challenging this decision, and yesterday (July 20)The Supreme Court of India issued a notice to Chandigarh administration ….after hearing the special leave petition filed ….. asked the UT administration to file their reply on the matter on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court is to deliver its verdict today (July 21).

Even those who are against abortion in general will find it difficult to oppose this abortion. The poor girl does not even understand her pregnancy. She is not capable of raising a child. If born, is the child to go to another such institution? What would be its fate there?

Whatever the decision of the Supreme Court, there is no doubt that society has failed in its duty. The very institution that was to protect her, facilitated this rape.

Time will only tell if her rapists are sentenced. It is necessary that justice be done to deter such attacks on other girls . The harshest punishment possible should be meted out to such animals.

But the long-term answer lies elsewhere. Morals are descending to unimaginably low levels in our society today. People think that it is permissible to do any heinous deed as long as they are not caught.

It is necessary to change the mindset of our society so that we learn to listen to, and act according to what our conscience tells us. Whether anyone is watching us, or not. Whether there is risk of being caught, or not. Whether we will be punished or not.

The answer lies in the mind; if change takes place there, it will take place in our actions also.

edited to add ;- The Supreme Court today stayed the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling to help the mentally retarded rape victim to terminate her pregnancy.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said its detailed reasoning for the stay would follow later.