Indian teenager delivers baby in secret with help from YouTube

Hospitals in Kerala under scrutiny after failing to detect pregnancy during visits by 17-year-old

A 17-year-old girl in India’s southern Kerala state used YouTube video tips to secretly deliver her baby in a bathroom after concealing her pregnancy from her family.

The teenager, who cannot be named because she is a minor, gave birth to a baby boy at her home in the state’s Malappuram district on October 20.

She had even cut the umbilical cord and had disposed of the placenta using tips from a video on the social media platform before her mother was alerted by the newborn’s cries.

Police said the mother, who is partially visually impaired, found her daughter bleeding profusely in her room with the newborn in her arms and rushed them to a hospital.

A police complaint filed by her family said that the teenager was in a relationship with a 21-year-old man for the past three years.

They said that the man abused their daughter when he visited their home to celebrate her birthday in February.

Police have arrested him on a charge of statutory rape as sex with girls below the age of 18 is a criminal offence under Indian law.

The girl and her reported boyfriend knew about the pregnancy but concealed it from their families over “fear of shame and guilt”, M K Shaji, a police officer, told The National.

The girl lives with her parents but her father, a watchman, is mostly away at night.

“The girl had been staying in her room on the first floor of the house for the last few months and rarely stepped out. Her illiterate parents thought she was taking online classes,” Mr Shaji said.

Officers said the family was unaware of the pregnancy despite hospital visits in recent months after the girl complained of abdominal discomfort.

Authorities have launched an investigation into two private hospitals for failing to detect the teenager’s pregnancy during her visits.

Shajesh Bhaskar, chairman of the Kerala Child Welfare Committee, said the incident raises concerns about child safety.

“This is a very shocking incident. Not just that the girl was abused at her place by a known person; she was hiding the pregnancy from her family in fear. She was in trauma and distress,” Mr Bhaskar told The National.

“The mother had taken her to nearby hospitals but they failed to detect the pregnancy. This exposes the failure of the doctors and hospital staff to identify her pregnancy and prevent the abuse,” he said.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 11:27 AM