The minor, who is hearing and speech impaired, was raped by her relative. She became pregnant and is now a mother. The incident has scarred her for life. She is now kept in confinement and faces social censure for becoming an unwed mother. What’s worse? Her own father wanted her dead
Neetu Singh/Mohit Shukla
When the father of a hearing and speech impaired minor in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district learned that she had been raped and was five months pregnant, he instructed his wife: “Poison her. How will we poor people fight her case?”
Nikita (name changed), 17, was raped on August 14, 2017, by her relative who is also a neighbour in a village in Pisawan block, about 50 kms from Lucknow. She became pregnant and is now a mother to a one-and-a-half-year-old son. The accused has been in jail for the past one-and-a-half-years.
The incident has changed Nikita’s life for the worse. She is now kept in confinement and faces social censure for becoming an unwed mother.
Nikita’s mother alleged the police lodged an FIR (First Information Report) only after the family members’ repeated visits to the police station for over a month. “Her father used to say: ‘You worry unnecessarily, no one listens to the poor. Give her some poison. It is not for the poor to litigate,” she said.
“She is my child. How could I have done that? I braced myself up to face the circumstances. I look after the baby, as she (Nikita) cannot do much. People chide me saying what kind of mother plays gleefully with the child of an unwed daughter. She is still a child herself. How can she care for a baby? If I don’t look after the baby, who will?”
Nikita, the third among three sisters and a brother, cannot hear or speak since childhood. So, when she was attacked, she couldn’t even shout in protest. She was raped when she was alone at home.
Nikita’s father, a driver in Lucknow, had met with an accident on August 13, 2017, and her mother had gone to Lucknow on the same day to take care of him. Nikita’s family alleged that when she was alone at home, the relative entered the house on the evening of August 14, 2017, and raped her. Nikita immediately went to the accused’s aunt and told her in sign language what had happened. The woman, however, signalled her not to tell it to anyone and threatened to kill her.
“Ever since this child’s birth, everyone has been taunting my daughter saying, ‘On top of being a hearing and speech impaired, such is her conduct.’ Our relatives tell us not to bring Nikita along, as this would bring shame to them,” she said holding the baby in her arms and fondling him.
“What is her or her child’s fault? I consider him like my own son. I do not take him out to see our relatives; I go alone where I must. I have given up mingling socially to a large extent.”
Nikita’s mother came to know about her pregnancy only when she was five months pregnant and the bump showed up. “She was scared after the episode. Those people had also threatened her not to tell anyone. Else my child wouldn’t have hidden it from me,” she said. “It was when the bump started showing up and I enquired that she let out the matter through signs. It was too late by then.”
She also blamed the police’s attitude. “I became aware of her pregnancy on January 26, 2018, and we took her to the Pisawan police station, but the police didn’t consider our complaint. Despite repeated visits, sometimes twice or thrice in a day, no FIR was lodged. Fed up, we took the matter to the SP saheb in Sitapur. Only then did the Pisawan police lodge the FIR on February 22, 2018.”
Responding to the allegation, Pisawan police station sub-inspector and the officer in charge of the case, Asmit Bharti, told Gaon Connection over the phone: “If she alleges so, we can hardly comment on it. But I’d only like to say that whenever a case comes to us at the station, we immediately lodge an FIR. As it is, this was an extremely sensitive issue and recording it was our priority. I do not think that she had to go to the SP’s office for an FIR.”
Talking about the progress of the case, he said, “This was the first case of my career where the survivor was hearing and speech impaired. I tried my best to help this family. For the magisterial testimony, we took the girl to a specialised institution and, with the help of an expert, recorded her testimony. The accused is now behind bars.”
Nikita had delivered the baby preterm on March 30, 2018. She was weak and gave birth to an underweight baby. Both remained in the hospital for about a month. Nikita’s mother said, “Since the baby didn’t do well in Sitapur, we admitted it in a Lucknow hospital, where it was kept in ventilator for several days. I did all the running around on my own and am thankful now that both survived.”