Thimphu police detained an 18-year-old woman for undergoing illegal abortion on May 7.

According to police, the girl who had recently turned 18 visited the national referral hospital after a miscarriage earlier this month.

Health officials said that according to their record, she is 16-years-old. They said she was referred to the forensic department since she was a minor and was impregnated. “She claimed that she was allegedly raped by three men,” a health official said.

The health official said they questioned both the girl and her sister who accompanied her to the hospital if she took any abortion pills. “They said she didn’t and I suspected that she was raped by someone she knew when she claimed that she was raped,” the official said.

The hospital initially reported the case to police as a rape case on May 3.

On investigation, police learnt that the girl who works as a babysitter was in a relationship with a 21-year-old man. A police official said the couple had some misunderstanding and the relationship ended. She then learnt about her pregnancy.

“She took abortion pills to abort the fetus,” he said.

According to section 146 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004, a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of illegal abortion, if the defendant unlawfully aborts or induces expulsion of an embryo or fetus or prevents a child from being born alive, except the act is caused in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the mother or when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or when the mother is of unsound mental condition.

It also states that the offence of illegal abortion shall be a misdemeanour.

Police and health officials said that she might have been pregnant for about two to three months. “We cannot say exactly because when she came to us, the fetus was already removed,” the health official said.

Thimphu police also detained her boyfriend on May 12 for the rape of a child above the age of 12 years.

The Penal Code of Bhutan also states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a child above the age of twelve years if the defendant commits any act of sexual intercourse against a child between the age of twelve and eighteen years. The offence is graded a second-degree felony.

Dechen Tshomo