Forced by a religious leader, a Muslim-dominated village in Bihar has asked a rape victim to leave the place after calling her 'napak' (impure) for giving birth to a child.
The husband has also deserted Sabia, a mute woman in her 20s and mother of two, following pressures from the leaders, the woman's distraught father Samsher Ali said.
The woman, who was raped last year by a neighbour, Mustafa, now lives with her parents in their thatched hut in the same village, Chandkiwari, in Muzaffarpur district, about 70 km from here. Mustafa is on the run.
Sabia's parents are facing the ire of the villagers for giving shelter to their "impure" daughter. "No one talks to us; we have no social life. We are treated like animals for no fault of ours," Samsher Ali lamented.
Says Sabia's mother: "I fail to understand why my mute daughter was punished when she did not commit any crime. She was rather a victim of the heinous crime of rape. But these people do not realise it."
Maulana Abdul Haleem, a Muslim leader of the village, however said that as per Islamic law Sabia had become impure due to the rape and the "illegitimate" child.
"We have instructed the villagers to boycott her," he said without mincing words.
The villagers are following his instruction. "We are bound by the decision to boycott her," said Pir Mohammad, a villager.
He added: "This is not an individual decision. It was taken by the community."
Lalan Pandey, in-charge of the local police station, said Sabia or her parents had not filed a police complaint. "If they lodge a complaint, we will try to end the social boycott," he said.
Sabia's desperate parents are planning to seek the help of an NGO.