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Will this shame stop?

| | in Sunday Pioneer
Will this shame stop?

6,400 cases of rape, 32 minors under age 10 gangraped, five women gangraped in moving vehicles, 23 to 45-year-old women most vulnerable — it’s been just 12 months since the Nirbhaya gangrape shook the nation and brutal rape statistics have only gone up. Doctors who attended on Nirbhaya agree that the violence on rape victims has only worsened. Worse still, the victims are getting younger and younger with a girl as new to the world as 18 days being brutally violated recently. Deebashree Mohanty rings the alarm bells

  • 6.4 per cent spurt in rape cases since the December 16 gangrape in Delhi last year
  • 15 brutal rapes have occurred in the northern region and five cases reported from the North-east. There were two instances of brutal rape in Orissa and seven in southern India.
  • 17 per cent rise in molestation cases since 2012
  • Five official cases of murder due to rape registered with Delhi Police after the Nirbhaya gangrape

Unfortunately what happened to Nirbhaya is not uncommon in India. With a combination of conservative, male-dominated thinking and weak law enforcement, our country has been in the spotlight for widespread violence against women. But the problem is that now the violence is taking an ugly face. Violence is mingled with inhuman action. The so-called landmark judgment in the Nirbhaya gangrape has failed to deter criminals from indulging in such acts. There has been a sharp rise in brutal crime after the infamous rape rather than a downslide. Which brings us to this question — are we ever going to be free from societal barbarism? Is there anything at all that we can do to stop such heinous crimes from happening? Of course, we need the law to deliver justice but we also have to look within ourselves. Some sort of a change is needed in the society and its high time we take cognizance of this.

—Malavika Subramanium,  activist and founder of Kalyan, an NGO to help assaulted women. Subramanium has also authored a book on the 16/12 gangrape victim

It’s been 12 months but Asha Devi, Nirbhaya’s mother still hasn’t got eight hours of sleep in a night. She is happy if she manages to keep her eyes shut for two to three hours. The horror of what her daughter went through keeps tormenting this 52-year-old housewife. But she makes one thing  clear. “I don’t want anything from the Government. No money, no nothing. I am quite pleased with the judgment and very happy to see that people are here to support us. But nothing can take away from my grief. No one can bring my daughter back. Life is never going to be the same again,” Devi says.

Just a few km away from Ballia, where Asha Devi struggles through life, there is another mother who hasn’t stopped crying for the past three months. But unlike Asha Devi, this petite woman from Tilkari village in UP wants immediate action. She desperately seeks a public outcry that will bring her 13-year-old daughter’s rapist-murderers to jail.

“Five boys (all juveniles) took her to a nearby barn and took turns to rape my only daughter. Then they burnt her to cinder. People saw flames coming out of the closed shed and wondered what was happening. But the boys told passers-by that they were burning dry leaves. The culprits burnt my daughter in front of the entire village and people participated in it thinking it was a leaf-burning exercise. Some of those innocent people were my daughter’s well wishers and friends,” an aggrieved Nirupama Guha said on TV recently, urging Delhiites to rake up her daughter’s case too so that the culprits get the maximum punishment.

It was only after four hours of this burning exercise that elders in the village got curious. They forced the door open and found the charred remains of a girl. “It was not unusual for my daughter to not be home for hours. She was a very playful girl. That day, when the sarpanch called our family to identify the remains of a human body we thought it was a cruel joke. But the culprits had confessed to their crime and told the panch that the girl was our daughter. There was nothing left for us to identify. We couldn’t even perform her final rites because there was nothing left to consign to the flames. Her father left the village in disgust. I am fighting alone for my dead daughter. I wish they had burnt me alive instead,” Guha says.

It has been barely 12 months since the national outrage over the gruesome rape and murder of Nirbhaya but the crime graph shows a steep rise in such criminality. “It has only gotten worse. These days, rapes have become more violent than ever. Nirbhaya’s case was an eye-opener. As a doctor, I had never seen a person so badly violated like that 23-year-old girl. But it hurts me to say that in April 2013 and again in September 2013, we got such cases where we were left paralysed in shock. The victims were below 10 years of age and suffered such extreme damage that it was difficult to even operate upon them. We couldn’t save an eight-year-old but the other girl from Haryana is stable. She had 21 surgeries before being sent back to her village where she is recovering from the trauma,” Dr BD Athani, medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital who was monitoring Nirbhaya 24X7, says.

Dr Athani is referring to the brutal assault on an eight-year-old girl in Moradabad in September 2013. The girl was raped and tortured by her uncle for 12 weeks before she succumbed to her injuries and became unconscious one day. Even that did not deter her uncle from performing unnatural sex. When her parents found her in the fourth floor of a construction site, the girl was naked, bleeding profusely and had vomiting blood. Her torn vagina had been clipped with a clothespin. The girl died after 48 hours in the hospital while her rapist uncle is absconding. A case has been registered and a manhunt on.

According to a National Crime Records Bureau statistic, rape violence against children has been on the rise with 2011-2013 being the worst few years for those below 10 years. “There has been a 32 per cent rise in rape crime against children below 10 years with UP, Bihar and Orissa emerging as States where maximum atrocities were recorded. In the northern region, there is a minor girl being raped every two days. More than 52 per cent cases are not even reported. The rate at which law enforcers are catching these criminals is negligent,” Sushma Mathani, advisor to Samridhi, an NGO which works for the uplift of raped women, tells you.

In April 2013, a five-year-old girl from Delhi’s Gandhinagar shanty was rushed to a Government hospital with her vital signs dwindling. The girl had been held captive by a 25-year-old man and his friend in his room for three days before she was rescued by neighbours. “That was another case which will go down as the most horrendous act of violence against a minor. The rapist Manoj Shah had kidnapped the child when she was playing outside her house. He and his friend raped her and then inserted a 100 ml bottle of hair oil and candles into her in a bid to stop the bleeding.

“She was found two days later locked inside Shah’s shanty while he had fled to his village. She was admitted to AIIMS in a very critical state where she underwent several reconstructional surgeries. So bad was her condition that doctors thought she would never be able to urinate the right way. Her private parts had to be re-stitched 11 times before her condition could stabilise. Now, she is with her parents who have left Delhi for good. Gudiya has to travel every month to AIIMS just to tackle her stitches,” Dharmpal, her uncle and helper at the general ward in AIIMS, told mediapersons’ during Gudiya’s case hearing in the High Court.

But what sort of a criminal profile are we looking at these days? “It is appalling. Crime against women have taken a nasty turn. Men are not happy inflicting injuries, they want them to be grievous ones. The intention is to make their victims suffer. This reflects the kind of society we live in. Nowadays, people have access to videos and other platforms from where they get ideas to inflict pain. They have started eulogising crime. A law that takes its own course is one thing. It is the urban-rural mash up that seems to be acting like a stimulus for such criminals. It is this intermingling of borders, this ready availability of weapons and a vulnerable law that gives these criminals an impetus to perform such barbaric acts,” Dr Seema Bansal, a prominent sociologist from Jawahar Lal Nehru University, says.

For criminologist Dr K Jaishankar, the pattern of rape has started to change in India post globalisation. “The profile of a rapist in India has changed during this process of Americanisation where the divide between haves and have nots increased. The rise of the middle class is also a reason wherein the consumerist culture has grown. The poor who are unable to get modern gadgets or facilities have found the option of attacking the middle class and the Delhi brutal rape case is an example of that. Safety has become a big question in cities wherein multicultural people live and there is a greater influx from various backgrounds. This cultural melting pot has brought in a new criminal profile,” Jaishankar, president for South Asian Society for Criminology and Victimology in Chennai, tells you.

He, however, adds that brutality is not a new phenomenon. “However, the patterns in which the rapes are committed have become different from earlier years. Naturally, the social change and the digital divide have a role to play, but social change is not the only reason. There is 24X7 news being flashed which creates some sort of a false image in the mind of a rapist. Mostly deprived even of basic necessities, he finds himself in the middle of news. He is excited, wants to experiment with other things, giving rise to more brutal rapes and murders. This constant euolgising of crime needs to stop,” Jaishankar says.

The scenario makes it impossible for the police to zero in on these rapists. “There have 6,400 confirmed cases of rape and abuse against women in Delhi alone. We have managed a success rate of 64 per cent since December 2012 but our problem is the way such crimes are committed. After the landmark judgement in the Nirbhaya case, we are afraid rapists will not leave any stone unturned to ensure that they kill their victim. This makes our job all that more difficult,” Chhaya Sharma, chief investigating officer of the Nirbhaya case, tells you.

Sharma says that there have been five cases of molestation registered at the Vasant Kunj police station from the same bus stop where Nirbhaya and her boyfriend had boarded the bus. “The bus stop had become a sort of a tourist attraction with many people coming to see it out of curiosity. Daily commuters found it difficult to find a place there. Many shifted their route. Nothing has changed since December 2012,” Sharma says dejectedly.

As 16/12 hits the anniversary note, everyone is asking the same question — is the worst over after the unfortunate Nirbhaya case? Alarmingly, no. There has been more and frequent brutality in these 12 months.

 

Horror stories

 

  • July 22, 2013, Orissa: A 23-year-old woman studying to be a nun was brutally raped and held captive over the course of a week by three men in Behrampur. According to the police, the victim was lured to a railway station by her captors — two of them her cousins. She was taken from the station, attacked at another location and then returned to the station with instructions not to tell anyone of the incident. In the course of the week, the woman remembers being raped continuously for 36 hours by many men. She failed to identify all men but she did identify the three. Narrating her horror tale, the nun said she was also asked to perform unnatural sex and talk dirty to people who had gathered to witness her rape. She was bleeding internally. The nun took three weeks to heal and left the area immediately.
  • February 12, Jind: A 12-year-old girl was raped by her uncle who made an MMS clip of the incident and shared it with everyone in the village. The girl who was studying in a Government school in Jind was molested by her class teacher who demanded that she have sex with him and other male friends because she had already been violated. After having gone through a week of torture at school, she confided in her parents. Later that night, her father raped too — in front of her mother and younger sisters. She was later beaten up by her family because they believed she had got disgrace to them. The girl was admitted to the Leelavati Hospital but died 12 days later. The mother finally filed an FIR against the uncle, her husband and her daughters, accusing the school of rape and murder. The teacher has been arrested while the uncle and father absconding.
  • March 1, Moradabad: A 44-year-old widow was gangraped by two juveniles who had come asking for donations. They forcibly entered her home, raped her and beat up her minor son who died on the spot. The unconscious woman was dragged by her rapists to the kitchen where they poured kerosene on her and tried to burn her alive. When she resisted and made some noise, the boys stabbed her 20 times on her chest and face. The intention was to damage the face so much that the bod would be unrecognisable. Suspecting foul play, some neighbours rushed in to see the rapists stabbing her. The widow in hospital due to injuries that had ruptured her lungs and sliced her heart. The accused, Vipin (15) and his half brother Amar (17) are in the juvenile home now. The final hearing on their case is scheduled for April 2014.
  • June 6, Alwar: A 15-year-old girl was raped by a bus driver and conductor while the bus travelled 15 km. After raping and blackmailing her with dire consequences if she told anyone, the perpetrators threw her out of the moving bus. She was discovered late in the evening by some passersby who heard her groan. She was rushed to a medical facility nearby where the doctors said she had suffered from severe skull injuries. Her right hand side was paralysed.She had a complete perineal tear — there was no muscle left between her rectum and vagina. The surgeons had to use a portion of her large intestine to create a new rectum. Her legs were amputated and she can’t speak properly, her zest for life continues. She still watches movies and has drafted a letter for Shah Rukh Khan, her favourite star.
  • August 24, Bulandshahar:  A 37-year-old woman was raped and burnt alive by her husband's boss who had earlier made advances on her. Annoyed with her rejection, the boss conspired with her husband to teach her a lesson. Making an excuse, Vikram Chaudhury from Assam left the village. The plan was that his boss would rape his wife and Chaudhury would get a raise. Accused Anil Jatta kept Chaudhury's wife in confinement at his house where he raped her repeatedly. According to police records, he refused to give her water or food for three days. When Chaudhury returned, he started blackmailing his boss for more money. An annoyed Jatta decided to kill his wife in the most brutal manner. In the intervening night of August 24, he kidnapped her again, raped her in the woods and inserted a sharp object inside her. He then gouged out her eyes so that she would not identify him. The woman died the next morning having spent more than five hours in unbearable pain. Chaudhury filed a report on August 25 and Jatta was arrested from his farmhouse 25 km from Bulandshahar. He has been given life imprisonment and has since admitted to his crime.
  • November 2, Jasola: Mutilated remains of an eight-year-old girl were retrieved from a dumpster by some boys playing cricket. The girl whose limbs had been severed and fingers chopped off was discovered accidently. Initial reports suggested that she had been raped by two men. In an attempt to cover up their crime, the men chopped her body parts to confuse the police. Although all her body parts were later found, the cops have no leads on the case. The girl’s parents have refused to perform their only daughter’s last rites.
  • June 6, Ahmedabad:  A Fifteen-year-old blind girl studying in class X in Surendranagar, had come to her father’s place at Odhav. She was sleeping with her elder sister Tara (name changed) on the terrace. Tara woke up and did not find Sonal. So, she started looking for her. When she went to the neighbour’s terrace, she found Manish raping her sister. The youth threatened to kill both the sisters if they uttered a word to anyone. The complaint was filed by Tara four days after the incident. In her complaint, she said Manish had put his hand on Sonal’s mouth so that she could not scream. After two days of the incident, the girl started having a stomach ache. So, with the help of their neighbours, Tara lodged a complaint against Manish for raping Sonal at the Odhav police station. Manish was arrested immediately.
 
 
 
 
 

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