Bulandshahr gangrape victims don’t get counselling amid political circus

  • Faizan Haidar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 07, 2016 00:59 IST
People take out a march demanding justice for the Bulandshahr gangrape victims, in Noida Saturday. (Sunil Ghosh / HT Photo)

A week after she was gangraped by highway robbers — who also assaulted her mother — in UP’s Bulandshahr district, the Ghaziabad teen has had little time to speak with counsellors who can help her deal with the trauma. Blame it on a constant stream of visitors, from politicians and mediapersons to family members.

The Uttar Pradesh government has assigned two female counsellors from a Delhi-based NGO to the 13-year-old and her mother, 35, in accordance with rules that mandate counselling for rape victims, especially minors.

The two women have been visiting the victims’ home since Monday — when the family returned — but have not been able to do their job due to the rush of visitors, said a police official deputed at the house.

Read: Bulandshahr victim’s family gets two flats in Ghaziabad

The family had come under attack while driving through the stretch on the Delhi-Kanpur highway at around 1.15am on July 30. Five to six armed men had held the family hostage for over two hours in nearby fields, tying up and beating three male members and an elderly woman and raping the mother and daughter before fleeing with cash and valuables.

“The counsellors come at 9am every day and stay on till 9pm. But they hardly get any time with the survivors. Crucial time is being lost and the trauma will stay with the girl unless she is properly counselled,” the official said.

An activist with the NGO said the teen was constantly surrounded by politicians and relatives. “The first thing a victim of rape needs is counselling. The counsellors barely manage to talk to her for an hour a day. They haven’t talked about the incident at all. They have built a friendship with the girl, though, and this is the only way to help her come out of the trauma.”

The police official said a social worker had barged into the girl’s room on Tuesday to offer her chocolates. “There were at least 10 people with her. The mother was sleeping on the floor. The counsellors were in a separate room, waiting for their turn,” he said.

Read: I want to punish attackers with my own hands: Bulandshahr rape victim

After a complete circus on the first three days, the police have started keeping a register on visitors.

“In UP, everyone is a politician. Even children of politicians are visiting and talking to her in an insensitive manner,” said the NGO worker.

Advocate Shilpi Jain told HT this invasion of privacy also makes a mockery of the law protecting the identity of a rape victim. “The law was made to protect the victim from mental agony and the torture of recalling the episode repeatedly. But the moment the media and politicians land up, everyone knows who has been raped and the locals start talking.”

Jain said the family can seek legal help to keep visitors away but may not be aware of their rights.

Sources said the crowd has started to thin now and the media camp outside the house is also getting smaller.

“The counsellors will be speaking with locals too. They need to be told there is no stigma attached to rape and taught how to treat the victims. This will help them lead a normal life,” an NGO source said.

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