In 2015, Kanchan, 14, had gone to the fields to cut some grass. She was kidnapped by three youth who kept her locked in a room and raped her for 24 hours. Somehow escaping the torture, when Kanchan returned home, she faced the neglect of her family members
“No one speaks to me at home. My brother and sister-in-law don’t even allow their little children near me, believing that they will become spoilt like me. When I couldn’t bear such treatment anymore, I came away 40 km to Lucknow and took up a room on rent to live here.”
These are the words of a gang rape survivor, tormented not only by the three men who raped her, but also by her own family and society, which had disowned her.
Kanchan (name changed) lives alone and far off from her village in the city because here no one torments her.
“When my very own family has neglected me, what can I blame others for? I work during the day, earning Rs 100-150 and somehow manage my studies and other expenses. It is difficult to run on such a small income, but I do not wish to return to the place where I felt lonely despite people around me. I want to study and become self-dependent … and do something purposeful.
Fourteen-year-old Kanchan’s life took an unfortunate turn in 2015 when one day, like any other, she had gone to the fields to cut some grass. There, she was kidnapped by three youth who kept her locked in a room and raped her for 24 hours. Somehow escaping the torture, when Kanchan returned home, she faced the neglect of her family members.
Kanchan alleges that since the accused were local musclemen, the FIR could be lodged only with tremendous difficulty and could be haphazardly managed only after several days went by. All the accused came out of the bars within months. About five years have passed since the episode, but the case still languishes in the court and the accused are freely roaming about. Meanwhile, Kanchan is determined to finish her LLB by working hard as ever.
Recalling the trauma of the days following the episode, Kanchan gets emotional and says, “When I came home, my brother proposed that I be killed and if I am kept alive, I would bring shame to the family. My mother didn’t speak to me for two whole weeks and refused to see me even. Papa only protested saying, ‘Don’t beat her, she is, after all, our daughter.’ My sisters too do not talk to me. My parents talk to me only when absolutely required because they are under my brother’s and social pressure.”
Sitting in the corridors of Lucknow High Court, Kanchan weeps and blames herself for a long time after speaking up. Even today, she believes that she suffers due to her own fault.
“My family deserted me when I needed it the most. I had no one in such a big household that I could share my pain and agony with. The pent-up emotions gave way to frequent thoughts of suicide, but then I didn’t want to prove myself wrong. I didn’t go to school till intermediate, I simply gave the exams in order to pass. Now I study law so that I can find a purpose to my life,” informs Kanchan.
So far Kanchan has received only Rs 90,000 from the state government’s promised compensation. As to when she’d get the remaining amount, she doesn’t have a clue.
Advocate Abhay Pratap Singh explains the delay which the victims have to face in receiving compensation from the government, “The victim side submits the necessary papers to the district’s District Probation Officer (DPO), which include the bank account details, ID and an affidavit. Thereafter, it takes a long for the amount to be sanctioned from the DPO, district magistrate and the state government. This is the reason for the delay.” However, for Kanchan, the biggest challenge isn’t the pending compensation, but strife with her own people.
Talking about the pending cases in the court, Singh, who is an advocate in the Lucknow civil court, said: “There is but a single fast track court in every district, which is inadequate given the number of cases. Lucknow had two fast track courts, but since family court matters were largely pending, one fast track court got engaged with family court cases. Only for the past two-three years, both fast track courts have been looking after the sexual abuse cases so it is hoped that they will be resolved sooner.”
He added, “Any case related POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) currently takes a minimum of five years to reach its verdict whereas it should happen within a period of six months to a year. Due to this, the victim’s family has to pay innumerable court visits and bear the expense of Rs 2-3 lakh as legal expenses.”
Whichever may be the reason behind pending cases, the victim and family have to undergo several difficulties. Even for Kanchan, these five years were excruciating. She doesn’t wish to revisit that agony, but her family and society leave no opportunity to remind her that it was all her doing. Traumatized by her past, Kanchan says, “Nothing else comes to my head. I study and struggle so that I may live ahead; I want to live life because I know I was innocent. Despite grave adversity, I have stuck to my studies because I want to be able to help girls like myself in the future.”
Affected by the behaviour of her family and society, Kanchan says “Everyone says if you speak to her you’d be tainted as well. I can’t laugh, speak or talk in front of anyone. I have grown upon little else but taunts for the past five years. No one had spared me so I left for the city seeking anonymity and to escape people’s derision.”
Kanchan adds sadly, “I am used to solitude now which I have even grown to like. When I am alone, there is no one to eye me oddly or blame me. Everyone talks to me here because no one knows about my past. I am fond of this superficial life even though it is fabricated upon my hidden past.”