Legitimacy claim

By Wilson Gnanadass
A 14 year old mother from Pussallawa has sought advice from a professional organisation based in Colombo inquiring how she could insert her childís fatherís name in the birth certificate of the child she gave birth to illegitimately.
In a letter addressed to Protecting Environment and Children Everywhere (PEACE) that looks after the best interest of such cases, the teenaged mother has indicated her fragile situation. In the letter, she has stated that she was abused by a 28 year old man and now she is in a quandary as to how she could face the world.
The under-aged mother Kanthi (real name withheld for legal purpose) is the eldest of three in a family.
Her father has been in the sick bed for several years and this prompted her mother to migrate to the Middle East to meet the familyís demands.
Kanthi and her two younger sisters have been studying at a school in Delumtalamada with the money sent to them by their mother.
Kanthi, out of the three, has been able to excel in her studies. Realising the hardship her mother was going through after marrying her bedridden father, Kanthi decided to study well and get through her Advanced Level examination. But her dreams were soon shattered.
She never even imagined that she will have to carry a baby and become one of the youngest mothers in the world, through no fault of her own.
She never had any love affairs or had any desire for them. Her ambition has always been to raise her family to the top with the financial assistance her mother was offering.
She also realised the hardship and the harassment her mother was going through working as a housemaid just to salvage the sinking family.
In the absence of her mother, she has been virtually looking into the family chores. On the one hand, feeding her little sisters and on the other, nursing her ailing father.
The 28 year old alleged abuser Ruwan (not his real name), who has been working in a small grocery shop in the same vicinity has been observing the movements of Kanthi and her ability to run a family efficiently without male support.
For Ruwan, Kanthi was an inspiration. He not only admired her for her bravery but also regarded her as a sex object and decided to quench his sexual thirst through physical contacts.
He never realised that his action would cause Kanthi everlasting pain and stigma, and that she would be forced to live with it for the rest of her life.
For Ruwan, approaching Kanthi was an easy task especially with the help of his step-mother who, the police say, has played a major role in motivating Ruwan to rape innocent Kanthi.
According to informed sources, Ruwan had taken Kanthi to his step-motherís house one day and raped her.
Kanthi soon realised she was pregnant yet did not want to abort the child she was carrying. She decided to face reality and take up the challenge of bringing up her child without male support.
However, when she had to obtain a birth certificate for the child, she was confronted with the problem of inserting the childís fatherís name as this child she bore was illegitimate.
When she contacted PEACE, the organisation in turn had consulted the Attorney General for his advice.
The AG had suggested that Kanthi should inform the Court and let the Court decide on it.
Accordingly, Kanthi filed a case before a Magistrateís Court and the Magistrate has summoned Kanthi on May 30, to give the final decision.
Ruwan was arrested by the police but given bail. The police now is on a witch hunt to apprehend Ruwanís step-mother, but informed sources said she had fled the country and gone to the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Kanthiís mother who was informed of this incident was forced to return to Sri Lanka.
The Nation learns that moves are made by PEACE to enroll Kanthi to an institution that would look after her until she turns 19 years of age.
PEACE officials confirmed that Kanthi would be looked after and would be given a special training on self employment skills so that she would be able to engage in some sort of employment later in life.