You are here

The story was narrated by:

Dr. Amita Pradhan Thapa
Consultant/ Obstetrician/ Gynecologist
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
National Hospital Guido Valadares

I was busy in the hospital in my 24-hours duty as always, helping pregnant women with who were about to become mothers very soon. When I was on my evening rounds in the maternity ward, my eyes were fixed on a young minor pregnant girl .It was a known face to me that I had encountered months before in my Gynecological OPD. I even recalled her address - Lahane and her age - only 12 yrs .I pointed at her and said these two words out loud: "Lahane, 12 years old!"

My medical staff giggled loudly and corrected me that her age was 21, whereas I was pretty certain about my memory. She explained that she had forgotten her date of birth when I had asked.

I refreshed my memory again: she had attended my Gynecological OPD some time back with her 19-year-old sister (mother of 2 kids) with history of amenorrhea for 2 months, I had examined her and explained to her that there is a possibility of her being pregnant which she flatly denied .Later the pregnancy test revealed positive. Only at that time, she decided to tell me the story of her short relationship with a 13-year-old boy.

Her sister started insulting her right there as it was shocking news for her. We explained everything about the proper antenatal care during her pregnancy, about nutrition, personal hygiene, immunization, and most importantly about Hospital Delivery!

Days and months passed by and she never showed up. We were wondering about her, because she was precious for us as she was the youngest pregnant girl we had encountered in Timor-Leste. Finally when she suddenly came to us, I was sort of relieved that she is fine and finally turned up in the hospital. Looking at her small stature and a huge round belly, I decided to perform cesarean section on her. I asked the ones accompanying her for the written consent thinking that the young boy would come forward as the father, but surprisingly she pointed at an elderly man of 37 years of age, referring to him as her husband.

I was speechless. But my first duty was to help her in delivery so I immediately started performing the operation and delivered a 3 Kilo gram healthy baby boy. When she saw her baby for the first time, I could feel the silent expression of her eyes with tears streaming down her face, as if she was trying to say many things that words cannot describe.
To me, she was an example of lost innocence in an ignorant relationship. The cultural consequences of this thing, was a heavy burden on her tiny shoulders. She had been given off to this elderly man to save face in her community, having no other option but to deprive the baby from his biological father forever.

How many more of these painful situations will she have to live with? When you think, it is impossible to count. The dreadful conditions which are the results of early exposure to sexual activities will undoubtedly lead to complications in women's lives. How many more innocent girls have to go through the same pain?

I wonder if this girl had ever thought about her actions and what consequences they could have. I wonder if she is the only one responsible for what happened. Isn't her family responsible for providing her with ethics? Isn't the school responsible for educating her? Isn't the society responsible for her?

This was only the tip of the iceberg. A reported case out of so many that are left unsaid. There must be many more girls living with the same or even worst conditions. If we don't do something or do not act right now, the country and the future generations will suffer.