Please leave us alone, pleads the family

Updated on Aug 03, 2016 07:11 PM IST
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KHODA (NOIDA): “Are you looking for the girl who was raped? Take a right,” says a local standing with a group of people.

They all know her house and are gladly guiding reporters, camera persons and even politicians, as they discuss how the incident “ruined” the girl’s life.

Near the girl’s house, there is hardly any space to stand. Everybody in the colony wants a glimpse of the girl and the mother who were raped in Bulandshahr on July 29 night. The camera persons — some of them perched on terraces — jostle to get the right shot, while reporters are fighting for a space to do their piece-to-camera.

Amid the circus, the girl’s father stands with a blank face, clueless.

“Muffle your face with a handkerchief and tell us who raped your daughter. We do not have time to blur the face, we need to send the visuals as soon as possible,” shouts a reporter. His camera person zooms the video camera into the face of the girl’s father. He does as directed.

After a detailed byte, the father removes the handkerchief. Just as he is about to go in, another set of reporters stop him and asks him to repeat himself.

“How many times should I repeat what happened with my daughter and my wife? They have been raped. What else do you want to know? My daughter was better till last night. With all the people visiting, she is now being asked to recall everything again. She has fallen sick again. She cannot stop crying. Please leave us alone. I wish we had never returned,” the father says with folded hands and breaks down. The reporters record that too. “Send this byte in the ticker,” shouts one.

The reporters have set up a camp of sorts in the girl’s house, having laid charpoys and placing their gadgets, tripods, cameras, mikes and laptops on it. When they get tired, they lie down to stretch their back, munching on chips. Some politicians also visited the family in the day.

Just a day ago, the victim’s family had said it was impossible for them to stay at their house after the incident as everybody now knows what happened to them. The hordes of people were doing them no good.

Explaining how the media and politicians defeat the purpose of the law meant to conceal the identity of the rape victims, advocate Shilpi Jain says, “The law was made to protect the victim from the mental agony and torture of recalling the episode repeatedly. The moment media and politicians land at their residence, the purpose is defeated. Everyone knows who was raped and all locals talk about it.

Legally, if the family wants, they can move court against such politicians and media but they are not aware of their rights. “Ideally the court should take suo motto cognisance in such matters, restricting the entry of media and politicians, but in our country they are not sensitive enough,” she adds.

Downstairs is no better. Hundreds of locals, including women and children, gathered to catch a glimpse of politicians visiting the girl. As cavalcades of politicians enter the narrow lane, a group of kids run behind the SUVs.

“She used to say hello whenever she went to school,” says a neighbour, referring to the survivor in past tense. “Now everyone is going to look at her differently. After all, what happened is very shameful. They should have quietly gone to their village . Why return here,” says the woman, discussing the case with others.

“My daughter asked me what happened to her friend. I had nothing to say. She wanted to go visit her but I did not allow. I have full sympathies but I cannot expose my daughter to what rape is at this age,” another woman says. The rest nod in agreement.

The men share the same view. “Badnami toh hui hai. Ab pehle jaisi zindagi kahan rahegi,” one man says.

Gender expert Kalpana Vishwanath says, “There is already so much stigma attached to rape that the girl will never be able to forget what happened with her. The people won’t let her. On top of it the insensitive media and politicians, make the situation worse. We should work to make the law on concealing the identity of the victim more effective. Till now, it has been made a joke each time such a case is reported.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ananya Bhardwaj was part of Hindustan Times’ nationwide network of correspondents that brings news, analysis and information to its readers. She no longer works with the Hindustan Times.

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