NEW DELHI: A week old baby boy in India survived several hours in a grave after being buried alive by his teenaged rape victim mother, police said Friday.
Cries heard by villagers produced the miracle rescue of the infant now recovering in hospital in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The 16-year-old mother buried the boy in a graveyard in an attempt "to get rid of him" a few days after secretly giving birth at her parents' house in Barwani district, a police official said.
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The identities of the mother and child are being kept secret. Children playing nearby reported hearing muffled cries and raised the alarm on July 3. The baby was found under about 10 inches (25 centimetres) of mud, reports said. The infant had been bitten by insects and was suffering from cold but was getting better and would be transferred to a state children's home, officials said.
"The victim decided to get rid of the child and buried him in a pit near her parents' home," Barwani police chief Prashant Khare told AFP. She later returned to her in-laws home in neighbouring Maharashtra state, the officer said. Police said the mother could face attempted manslaughter charges.
The girl claimed she conceived after being sexually assaulted by a local teenager. A 17-year-old youth was arrested on rape charges on Thursday. The girl's parents had forced her to marry in an attempt to cover up the assault but her husband refused to accept the child. Any sex with a person aged below 18 is considered rape in India.
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Sexual assaults in rural India are often concealed because of the social stigma. Women are often blamed in the aftermath of sex crimes. India has a grim record of sexual assaults on minors with 20,000 cases of rape or sexual assault reported in 2015, according to government data.