By Nirmala Carvalho
The woman was called by her mother who said she was ill, but when she arrived she was locked up, taken to a clinic and had an abortion. For Fr Devasagayaraj, former national secretary of the CBCI SC/ST commission, this is a consequence of endogamy, which requires people to marry in the same caste.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The parents of a 19-year-old woman from Salem (Tamil Nadu) forced her to have an abortion because she had married a Dalit.
Renuka Devi from Thiruvachoor village is currently staying at a women’s relief home after she was forced to terminate her four-month pregnancy. Her parents prevented her from meeting her husband.
Renuka and Perumal, originally from Ramanathapuram, got married in August 2020 in Tirupur. Her parents were against the marriage since he came from a different caste.
According to police, Renuka belongs to the Vanniyar, an OBC (Other Backward Caste), while her husband Perumal is from a scheduled caste, a Dalit.
After getting married, the couple moved into Perumal’s home. On 21 January, Renuka received a phone call from her mother telling her that she was ill. The worried daughter rushed to her mother’s home.
When she travelled went to Thiruvachoor, Renuka was four months pregnant. As soon as she arrived, her parents locked her in the house and prevented her from contacting Perumal.
On 26 January, Renuka was taken to a clinic in Attur and was subjected to a forced abortion. Meanwhile, a concerned Perumal went to the police and filed a complaint.
According to media reports, she managed to contact her husband two days later, using her brother’s phone. Perumal then went to the Superintendent of Salem Police and filed another complaint. Later, Renuka was rescued by the police. Her father Subramani and mother Selvi were arrested.
Renuka has been moved to a shelter for the time being. It is not clear whether the clinic where the abortion was performed was also aware that the young woman had been forced.
“Endogamy is one of the main reasons the caste system has been sustained for centuries,” said Rev Devasagayaraj, speaking to AsiaNews.
According to the former national secretary of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), “The notions of purity and pollution make people strictly enforce endogamy. The wrong idea of caste dignity and hierarchy induce people even to go as far as honour killing. Killing the foetus should also be considered as honour killing.”