Opinion

Minor raped, forced to sell her eggs to pvt hospitals; TN begins probe

Police in Tamil Nadu have unearthed a case of a minor girl who was raped by her mother’s male friend on multiple occasion and was forced to sell her oocytes, the female gamete cell or egg, to several hospitals in the region.

The girl’s mother and her male friend have been arrested, police said.

Among others arrested are a woman intermediary who allegedly facilitated the sale and a van driver who forged an Aadhaar card for the girl to identify her as a 20-year-old, according to a senior officer probing the case. “We have also started a probe on certain hospitals and a few doctors,” the officer added.

The police, assisted by the state health department, found that the girl was being used for illegal sale of her eggs from 2017 to different private hospitals in the state.

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“The minor was subjected to illegal trade of her eggs at least eight times in the last four years,” the officer quoted above said. “Her mother was also (in the business of) selling eggs. The girl decided to file a complaint after she had problems with her mother and the latter’s male friend.”

The officer said the girl kept quiet about her ordeals for a long time, but “situations forced her to leave” home last month. “She stayed with a friend in Salem for few days and approached some relatives and shared details of her torture and trauma. They informed the police,” the officer said.

A detailed interview with the girl by a team of officials from the Directorate of Medical and Rural health Services on Sunday revealed that her mother and her male friend got Rs 20,000 for each instance of sale of the teen’s eggs. The intermediary, a woman now arrested, purportedly got a commission of Rs 5,000 per instance.

According to police, the girl’s parents got separated nearly a decade ago and the mother later moved with the child to her male friend’s house several years ago. There, police said, the girl was subjected to rape on several occasion by the man.

A case has been registered under several sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) Act; IPC Sections 420, 464, 41, 506 (ii) and Section 34 and 35 of The Aadhaar (Targeted) Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies Benefits and Services Act.

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan told The Indian Express, “A committee has been formed, with experts from the medical services, to probe all other angles. If doctors and hospitals are involved, they will face strict action, including cancellation of license,” Radhakrishnan said.

Dr Amalorpavanathan Joseph, a veteran vascular surgeon who pioneered the state’s prestigious organ distribution process and headed the Transplant Authority of Tamil Nadu for over a decade, said the case may be seen as one directly proportional to mushrooming of infertility centres.

“Where do all these centers get their clients, ova, sperms, eggs — all this should be probed,” Dr Joseph said. “The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021, clearly says the surrogate mother’s eligibility is that they have to be married. It says, ‘no woman, other than an ever married woman having a child of her own and between the age of 25 to 35 years on the day of implantation, shall be a surrogate mother or help in surrogacy by donating her egg or oocyte or otherwise’. In this case, even if they faked the age, they couldn’t have faked the motherhood. So a big criminal nexus may be involved.”

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