"Our religious faiths were different, but I had never discriminated against him. His daughters called me bhaiyya and tied rakhi to me on every Rakshabandhan. My faith in the goodness of any relationship is gone forever,” said the father of the rape survivor, a poor mason
Neetu Singh/Mohit Shukla
Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh
“He has scarred our little girl for her life. Even though it has already been two years, she still cries remembering it. I can’t bear to see her in such despair but can do little. Such wounds take a life to heal,” said the survivor’s mother, helplessly.
Such is the pain of the mother whose nine-year-old daughter was raped by a 65- year-old neighbour who lived right across the street from their home. “She neither plays nor remains happy anymore. We avoid all such talks that would remind her of the unfortunate day. We did not venture out of our home for six months after the incident. We simply couldn’t gather the courage. We had sent the girl to live with certain relatives of ours who were unaware of the mishap. We do not want anyone to talk to our daughter about it,” said the mother.
Gaon Connection didn’t want the survivor to live through the trauma yet again, so we spoke to her parents instead.
This incident took place in a village of Sitapur district’s Pisawan block when, in June 2017, the nine-year-old girl had accompanied her grandmother to graze their goat at about three in the afternoon. There, the grandmother instructed the girl to watch over the goat and left to gather some firewood. Soon enough, the 65- year-old man, who lived across the road from this family, appeared and clamping her mouth shut, took the girl to the nearby sugarcane field and raped her. He fled thereafter leaving her behind in a near-dead state. The offender’s imprisonment may be a relief for the survivor’s family, but the scars of her ordeal are hard to heal.
“We talk in a hushed tone in our own house. It has been three years. Our son has been married, but our daughter-in-law has not been told about it. Our daughter was studying in fifth at that time, now she studies Arabic. She fell unconscious after the ordeal and somehow managed to reach home when she regained consciousness,” said the mother.
She added: “She remained critical. Her private parts were severely damaged. It was only after continuous treatment for a year that she could get better. She still suffers from headache and stomach ache. In the beginning, when the police used to come, she used to begin sobbing uncontrollably. So, we do not let any outsider meet her.”
The father of the survivor is a mason and worries constantly about his daughter’s marriage. “After the incident, we sent her off to live with our relatives as she became too afraid to even step out. We have to look ahead and think about her marriage prospects so we do not wish to dwell in the past anymore. I had entrusted the responsibility of my household to the person who raped her just 2-3 days before I ventured out for some work. When I returned, I came to know about his misdeed.”
“Our religious faiths were different, but I had never discriminated against him. His daughters called me bhaiyya (brother) and tied rakhi to me on every Rakshabandhan. I still can’t reconcile to the fact that such a person could do such a heinous thing to my daughter. My faith in the goodness of any relationship is gone forever.”
When the father is asked about the compensation provided by the state government for the rehabilitation of rape survivors, he said: “I don’t know. No one has told me about it. We were so traumatized that we couldn’t look into such possibilities. The family of the offender tried several times for the reconciliation, but when we didn’t respond, they began harassing us. Thinking that the worst has already happened, we live unaffected by threats.”
Ashwini Kumar Tiwari, Sitapur district’s District Probation Officer (DPO) told Gaon Connection over the phone, “We do not have any official that can be sent to fetch the details. Previously we used to call the gram pradhan for the details of the survivor for the compensation, but now there is a nodal police officer deployed to upload the charge sheet whereby the matter now gets routed through the nodal medical officer to reach me.” When asked about the delay in the present case, he said: “Probably the charge sheet would have been filed late in the case, causing the delay.”
To establish the cause of delay, we approached the civil court advocate, Abhay Pratap Singh, who informed, “If, in a case, the offender is jailed immediately, there isn’t any possibility of a delayed charge sheet. The charge sheet, in this case, would have been filed within 60-90 days, anyhow.” Talking about the compensation, he said, “If the survivor’s side deposits the photocopies of the FIR, survivor’s bank details, Aaadhar card and affidavit at the DPO’s office, the process of compensation gets sorted out.”
The survivor’s mother said: “The girl has to be taken there repeatedly. She loathes such visits, but it needs to be done. The daughter is mentally fragile, we consistently try and counsel her, what else can we do?”
In such serious cases, the survivor is provided counsellors from the child welfare committee at the district level to help with her rehabilitation.
When asked about the child welfare committee, Ashwini Kumar informed, “DP Singh is its head. I am currently in a meeting and shall talk about it later.” At the same time, Abhay Pratap Singh said: “Neither the private lawyer fighting the case for the victim nor the public is aware of the provision of counselling facility at the district level for the victim. The government having made the provision has overlooked the need for an agency to disperse information about the same. The child welfare committee looks after the victim as long as required.”