Pic courtesy– “Bound” by Hayley Rose
Born to a middle-class family, she was an easygoing 17-year-old during her first year of BCom. But a morning in March 2012 changed her life forever—it marked the beginning of a 10-month-long nightmare.
“The first incident (rape) happened in March,” she said. “On December 8 (2012), I was gang-raped. I don’t remember the date but it was a Saturday. Our neighbour, whose house my family often visited, invited me over. Her husband was also present. She asked me to sit down and left on the pretext of fetching water. While leaving, she locked the door from outside and her husband raped me. He hit me when I resisted. They threatened to kill me and my brothers if I mentioned the incident to anyone. They also claimed to have made a video which they would circulate on the internet. I didn’t speak of it as I was shocked and scared.”
She was allegedly raped by the man four more times over the next 10 months. “I was forced to visit their place thrice between March and December. They made videos to shock me into silence.”
However, the worst was still to come. “On December 8, my neighbour and a person known to him raped me while the woman stood guard outside. The other man was the one who threw me off a train last year,” she said.
“The woman asked me to come back to her house in the evening, and when I declined, she hit me on the head. In the evening the rapist‘s mother-in-law called my mother and me and accused me of theft. I was not well and could not bear the pain on returning home. I told my mother everything. I was admitted in a local hospital for a week and spent another month at AIIMS.”
Her experience with police, panchayat and society was equally horrifying. “I felt my life was finished but counselling from KD Foundation helped me recover. I continued painting as that was the only way to be alive.” “I was all alone. Everyone blamed me. Police did nothing at first. Instead, they accused me of lying and refused to file an FIR. When they did file one, it was against me for theft.”
“Panchayat par bhi yakeen nahin mujhe. It is said the elders will take the right decision. However, they too think the girl is at fault and that her mother didn’t teach her anything. They cast doubt on the girl’s, and not the rapist’s, character. The neighbours left our side. We were alone before activists from KD Foundation came to our aid,” she added.
The survivor, who is preparing for her bachelor in fine arts and aspires to be an interior designer, has faith in the judiciary. “Only a person who has faced such horror can know the pain. I want the accused to be hanged and all rape survivors to come out in the open. They should not make the mistake of keeping quiet. They should approach the court directly,” she said.