The rape victim that India forgot

Bereft of media attention, minor girl fights lonely battle and awaits 20th surgery after being gang-raped 16 months ago.

Charges of rape have been brought against only two men, though the girl said she was raped by six [Al Jazeera]

Not far away from where hundreds marched and held candle-lit vigils in memory of a medical student who died after a brutal gang-rape in the capital New Delhi exactly a year ago, the 12-year-old lay in a room, forced to come to terms with her wounds and plight virtually alone.

Gang-raped some sixteeen months ago and having undergone 19 reconstructive surgeries, there has been little or no outpouring of sympathy and public support for her.

“These sixteen months have been the worst in in life. I am dying every single day. My life has been ruined, body violated. The pain is unbearable, but I am yet to get justice,” she says.

“Will you help me to get justice?” she asks the correspondent. 

While last December’s  Delhi gang-rape victim consumed the nation bringing along with it changes in law to deal with sexual abuse and aroused people’s conscience, this minor girl has received no attention from anyone. She was raped four months before the Delhi incident.

Her case is yet to be tried in court.

She has been crying for help. But it seems like the protesters who took on the streets of Delhi like a storm, have turned a deaf ear to her pleas. None visited her even on Monday, the first anniversary of the Delhi rape.

The minor girl has been waiting at the Rajasthan Bhavan – official guest house of the state of Rajasthan – in New Delhi for 10 months to undergo her 20th operation in January.

Since her rape in August 2012, many high profile cases of sexual abuse have come to the fore, with public indignation forcing the authorities to act. A high-profile preacher is in jail for alleged rape. A top-notch magazine editor has been thrown behind bars for sexual misconduct with a fellow journalist. Three of the accused in the Delhi rape have also been sentenced to death.

However, justice has remained elusive for this unfortunate girl, who is not being named to maintain her privacy.

Hailing from a family of daily labourers she was raped on Eid, a day of celebration. Recounting her day of horror, she says, “They took me to a forest and kept slapping me as they violated my body. They were six people. Initially I screamed for help, but later I lost consciousness and could not remember anything. Next evening, I found myself on a deserted road.”

Recounting their journey since then, the rape survivor’s sister says, “She had been brought to Jaipur and admitted in JK Lone (a paediatric hospital). Her condition was so terrible that doctors could not say anything for some time.”

Dr L D Agrawal, who treated the girl for seven months in JK Lone says, “Normally, it takes us a few minutes to understand the case. But, in this case, we took more than half an hour to arrive to a conclusion on how we could restore her private parts. The septum separating the vagina and anus had been severely ruptured.”

But even after undergoing 17 surgeries, her condition did not improve and she was taken to the Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), where she went two major operations. “At AIIMS, doctors had told us that some unnecessary operations were done in Jaipur,” alleges her sister.

Only relief

The only relief was a compensation from the government of western Rajasthan state of Rs five lakh ($ 5106), which was deposited in the bank account of the survivor. However, nothing much has been done to jail the accused.

“Since the beginning, the police have been lenient towards the culprits. As soon as she had been kidnapped, her family had informed the police, but the police didn’t act immediately. Later, she was found deserted after being raped. Though the accused were identified, the police failed to arrest them immediately,” says Naseema Khatoon, a social activist, who has been fighting for justice to the survivor.

“Eventually, when the police arrested the six accused, they granted bail to two at the police station itself. Even after taking the victim and her family’s statement, police registered a weak case. And most importantly, charge of rape has been slapped only against two, instead of all six,” she pointed out.

The trial is yet to begin. Police here say the reason is because of delay in identification of the accused by the survivor.

“As soon as she gets well, we will bring her to Sikar for the identification parade,” said officer Seema Hingonia.

When asked why rape charges had been framed only against two, the police officer excused herself saying she would be able to comment only after looking through her file.

“The accused are associated with a minister. In this case, as the victim was poor and it happened in a small town, neither civil society nor the media has paid much attention to her plight,” laments Khatoon.

Source: Al Jazeera