Before an 11-year-old rape victim’s wounds had even healed, her tribal identity became a reason for psychological trauma in MP.
The girl was allegedly raped, and brutally attacked when she resisted. Against odds, however, she survived, but her ordeal didn’t end. After spending 17 days in a hospital, she returned home to Itarsi in Hoshangabad district only to be scorned and boycotted.
“They have spoiled the life of my youngest daughter. I have five more daughters, and for their safety and the safety of my youngest daughter, I have to send her to a shelter home,” her father said.
He, however, refused to comment on pressure being mounted by the community. The father’s apparent helplessness is because the alleged rapist is from the powerful Yadav community. There are just four houses of tribal families in the village of 12,000 people.
“Nobody wants to allow [her] to live in the village. [She] is being treated as a culprit. Every day, people curse the family members. They are being pressured and threatened to throw [her] out of the village,” a relative of the victim told Gauravi — One Stop Crises Centre, Bhopal.
Life for this family was like any other before that fateful day in the first week of February when 24-year-old Shankar Lal Yadav allegedly raped the 11-year-old girl and threatened her of dire consequences. Petrified, the young girl kept quiet about her ordeal.
It may be this silence that emboldened him to repeat his crime on February 27. This time, however, she fought back. Enraged, he attacked her with a blade. “When [she] came to Bhopal, she was in critical condition,” Sarika Sinha, member of Gauravi — a One Stop Crisis Centre and regional manager of Actionaide. “I can’t explain the level of exploitation.”
“Even after six decades of independence, discrimination is still spoiling the lives of many people. Instead of (sympathising) with her, villagers are cursing her just because of her caste. Our team visited the place and witnessed it,” she added.
But all hope is not lost. The local police have been magnanimous in their support. “We are providing all kinds help to the victim and her family. Even I am ready to adopt that girl,” Hoshangabad superintendent of police Ashutosh Pratap Singh said. “If they have any problem or fear, they should at least inform us. I will ask police personnel to take care of the family.”