Life for the family of a girl, who was allegedly raped by a legislator, has come to a standstill, drowning in the fear of stigma and judgment.
“Nights are more painful. We cannot sleep. We assure each other. Days are spent consoling, meeting a lawyer or two, just being up and around the house for having nothing better thing to do. Cannot roam on the roads for even sympathy from strangers hurt,” says the 51-year-old father of the rape victim.
“I can’t stand those questioning eyes, though people in our village have been decent and fully with us in this period of trauma. They don’t ask, they don’t question… In fact, they are very careful. But, is that normal? This abnormality, which my life has acquired, really hurts,” he adds.
RJD Nawada MLA Raj Ballabh Yadav allegedly raped his daughter, for which a complaint was lodged on February 10. The police, however, are yet to arrest the legislator even after the local Biharsharif court ordered to attach his property.
Meanwhile, the alleged victim, a Class 10 student, will likely miss her board exams for fear of judgment.
“They have prescribed her centre for the board examinations at Sohsarai Kisan College, 15 km away,” he says, her admit card in hand.
“Do they expect me to go there with my daughter and make a tamasha (show) of her, (with) the 10 police guardsmen following us to the place? Imagine our embarrassment,” he says. “How would the boys taking the examination take my daughter? What will I do of the catcalls, teasing? How will my daughter react? She could die of a heart attack.”
The traumatised family has also withdrawn all the other children from the one-room accommodation they shared to attend coaching and school in Biharsharif. The oldest daughter has cleared BSc, the second is in the second year, while the third just enrolled in BA. The two boys are still students of the school in which the victim, the youngest daughter, studied.
“I cannot stay in Biharsharif’s Professor’s Colony with everyone knowing about us...Now, my six children stay here. They don’t feel like going out for fear of people. Their education is gone. Three of them have taken sick,” the devastated father says.
“I don’t know what to do. I feel suicidal. Ending life is easy, living it is such a huge pain. What’s in the future, I don’t know.”
His only wish now is for his daughter to be transferred to a residential school away from Nalanda, away from where everyone knows about her trauma. On its part, the Nalanda administration sympathised with the family and appointed two teachers to coach her at her village home for the Class 10 Bihar board examinations, which start on March 10.
“The administration could set up a separate centre for my girl, away from public gaze, not with other students. It could even be in an annexe of the district magistrate’s office,” says her father.
He will be travelling to Biharsharif to meet education officials and the district magistrate with the plea to allow his daughter to appear at her home village, or even her home under the strictest supervision.
HT met Nalanda district magistrate M Thiyagrajan SM to know if a solution under the unique circumstances was possible.
“I am aware of this sensitive issue; the victim’s sister has spoken to me. I am in contact with the education department and after getting proper direction, I would be able to take a decision on it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the legislator roams free and, forced to close their small shop in the village, the family has to live on the Rs 1 lakh it received from the Bihar state legal services association under a provision to provide some relief to rape victims.
“How unfair can this world be… someone else is responsible for the crime, but it’s the victims who suffer,” says the father, no longer able to hold back his tears. He was forced to shut his little shop in the village after the incident.
“There is as if a deep pain shooting through my heart... I sometimes dream of dying, hope to be interred, run away. But then, I have to live for my girls — four of them — and two boys, who have no one (else).”