End stigma attached to rape

Neelam Pandey and Faizan Haider

New Delhi, Dec. 22 -- As if the trauma of rape isn't enough, there are a series of upsetting situations lined up for the victim, beginning right after an FIR is registered. The gangrape of the 23-year-old physiotherapist has once again brought to fore the ignominy of being a rape victim in this country.

When the case is tried in court, it is akin to being raped a second time. And hardly any financial assistance comes her way. The victim relives the trauma of being raped and faces yet again the person who brutalised her. Then there are the endless rounds to the police station, and the endless rounds the police does of her neighbourhood. No wonder, a number of these victims turn hostile in court.

Most give up due to one or a combination of reasons.

Social stigma

This is one of the major reasons why rape cases are not reported in the first place. According to the women and child development department, visits to the victim's home by uniformed policemen lead to this stigma as neighbours begin questioning the family. "We need to embolden and empower women and the community," said Kiran Walia, women and child welfare department minister.

Financial crunch

This is yet another major reason why victims shirk from approaching the police. Take for instance the case of a 16-year-old who was raped by her father. Her mother was scared of reporting the case as he was the only earning member of the family. Delay in compensation also adds to the financial crunch, especially when the trial of the case is on. While the government may be talking about fast-tracking rape cases, in reality most cases linger on for years.

Specialattention on minors

Statistics, shockingly, reveal that almost 60 per cent of rape victims in Delhi are minors. In 2011, of the 572 cases of rape reported in the city, 57 victims were below the age of 10. And because a child is most likely to forget the details of the case as time passes, it is imperative that their statement is recorded immediately. But this does not happen often. Moreover, the first statement should be enough to nail the accused, but this too does not usually happen.

"The problem is that our system makes a child give statements several times. Naturally, there will be discrepancies in the statement taken earlier and that recorded after a period of time. In many cases, this has been the prime reason for the accused going scot-free," a senior police officer said.


She wanted to study, but didn't have courage: 16-year-old rape victim forced to leave home.

On December 4, the 16-year-old girl had gone to a stationary shop in the market near her home when she was dragged into another shop. Four men then raped her. "They threatened me that they had filmed the act and if I approached the police, they will make it public," the girl told HT.

So devastated was she that she was unable to narrate the incident to anyone in the family at first, but later confided in her mom. She also alleged that two days later, they went to the police station to get a complaint lodged. But the police refused to lodge a case.

Finally, the case was registered on December 8. "The police insisted that I visit the police station, with which I was uncomfortable," the 16-year-old said.

The accused were booked under various sections that attract lesser punishment. But her trauma did not end here. "Our relatives started taunting us. We had no option but to move her out of the city. She is currently staying with a relative. She wants to study, but could not muster the courage to go to school. She is the victim, and yet she's been punished," the victim's brother said.

The family is also planning to leave the neighbourhood as they have been boycotted socially. "At one point, I even contemplated committing suicide. But looking at my sister, I decided to fight the battle. We will not give up," he added.

After one year of being raped, she complained:14-year-old raped by dad, doesn't have a home now.

The teenager was raped by her father for over a year, but she could not gather the courage to file a complaint. "When I did, I was shifted to a shelter home as I was afraid of entering that house again. With my father behind the bars, the police officials suggested that I should seek shelter in one of these homes," she said.

The 14-year-old and her father used to live in their Sonia Vihar house in east Delhi after her mother died a few years ago. "I had never imagined that my father will rape me. He even restricted my movement around the colony," she told HT. The girl had stopped leaving her home, but one day, she finally gathered the courage to inform the police.

After the complaint, police arrested the accused father and asked the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to move her to a shelter house.

"The decision was taken to make sure that the girl felt safe and was able to continue her studies. Her father ruined her life but we are now trying to bring back normalcy, in her life" a senior police officer said.

However, the CWC is of the opinion that if the girl is willing to live with a relative, she would be allowed to leave. "She has already gone through a lot and needs her loved ones around. If her relatives are ready to take her in, we will allow her to leave," a CWC official said.

She hasn't been paid wages for 3 months: 22-year-old raped, fiance has deserted her.

On March 15 this year, the 22-year-old resident of Mangolpuri got a call from her neighbour and acquaintance. He asked her to reach his house as his "mother wanted to meet" her.

When she got there, he was sitting alone in the house. He locked the doors, sedated and raped her. "He beat me up badly and my neck hurt for days when I tried to defend myself," she recalled.

For days, the fear of being ostracised kept her quiet, but later she confided in her sister who got a case registered.

Eight months later, the 22-year-old from Assam is unable to forget anything. "Everything has changed. My landlord wants me to leave the house and I have to constantly fight with him. At my workplace, people treat me differently," she said. In fact, the shoe factory where she works has not paid her for three months now.

Right now, her biggest concern is getting married. The man who had promised to marry her has changed his mind. He even took away her belongings. "I want to get married and lead a happy life but it is becoming difficult for me to sustain myself," she said.

She had come to Delhi a year ago for a job. After landing in Delhi, she lived with her sister for some time but now lives alone in Mangolpuri. "He is behind bars but I am still socially ostracised. I don't know whom to ask for help," she said.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.