The story of the three central characters in the sordid saga of the female toddler, who is battling for her life at a city hospital, shows the plight of India’s rural women at each successive stage.
All three, women’s rights activists and even the police agree, are united by a single factor — abuse, of one kind or another, and are victims in their own right.
While the toddler, who turns two in March, is nursing grievous bodily injuries, the 14-year-old girl, who subjected her to physical torture out of frustration, was allegedly sexually abused by several men.
After she was tracked on Monday, the physically-tormented infant’s 22-year-old mother admitted to having given her away after her husband of five years abandoned her, after making her a victim of domestic violence.
“This disappointing story now seems to have come a full circle. All three girls tell the story of women from rural India subjected to abuse right from the time they are in the womb to being sexually exploited and finally trafficked,” said Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research (CSR), an NGO.
A study conducted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), as way back as in 2005, Kumari said, put the number of women trafficked to other states and even beyond national borders at three million annually.
Even the police, who recovered Munni, the battered infant’s mother from Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu on Monday morning, accepted that she ‘was a victim of her circumstances’.
“We are treating Munni as a victim and not as an accused in this case. Her circumstances, including her abandonment by her husband, made her a victim. She just wanted a better future for her three children, that’s all,” said Chhaya Sharma, DCP (south).
Munni, sources said, ‘shrieked’ when shown a picture of her battered daughter after being tracked-down in Rajasthan. That was before she gave the police a ten-page statement with details about the abuse that she too had been subjected to.
“We showed Munni the battered child’s picture in Rajasthan yesterday. She shrieked that it was hers, but we haven’t yet told her that she is half brain-dead and that the chances of her survival are lesser than when she had left her in Laxmi’s care,” said an investigating officer.Munni has two more children — a three-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. Both of them are still missing.