'When rape and molestation are supported by the family, it can no longer be considered merely a criminal act.'
'What kind of morality makes rape a family act?' asks Sankrant Sanu.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
A 21-year-old girl was brutally gang-raped in Motihari, Bihar, and a gun and wooden stick were inserted into her. She was left naked on the road, presumed dead.
This brutal case has echoes of the Nirbhaya case in Delhi that shocked the nation in 2012. But there is even more reason the epithet 'Nirbhaya' suits this brave girl of Bihar and why she needs our help.
Media details are patchy (external link). But from what I can gather, here is the sequence of events.
The accused, Samiuallah, allegedly molested the girl when she was going to defecate in the field. He recorded the molestation and tried to blackmail and rape her using the video.
Nirbhaya was brave. She didn't take this lying down or succumb to shame. She told her mother about it and also slashed Samiuallah with a knife when he tried to molest her again.
Nirbhaya has a brave mother as well. She went to the perpetrator's house to protest and complain to the family about the son. Rather than paying any heed to her, the family abused the mother.
This is reminiscent of the case in West Bengal's Malda district where a Class 9 girl and her mother were thrashed for protesting harassment (external link) by a local man, Noor Ali.
A senior police officer said the family members of Ali (20) 'allegedly thrashed the girl and her mother with rods and stick when they went to his residence to complain about the continued harassment and stalking of the girl allegedly by the youth at public places in the past one year'.
When rape and molestation are supported by the family, it can no longer be considered merely a criminal act. It brings into question the values of that family. What kind of morality makes rape a family act?
In Motihari, things did not end with Nirbhaya's mother's complaint. The rapist family was emboldened by the Bihar police failing to lodge a complaint despite the spunky mother and daughter. So the family decided to finally break the girl's spirit with greater brutality.
According to media accounts (external link), 'The accused along with his four male family members, namely Aliullah, Javiullah, Smrullah, Klimullah and Nurullah barged, into the victim`s house, dragged her out and eventually gang-raped her.'
'The accused also forced a homemade gun and wooden sticks inside her private parts after which the girl collapsed. The accused later left the girl naked on the road side assuming that she was dead.'
Apparently, this brutal rape happened on June 15, but the Bihar police dragged its feet in filing a complaint and in taking action. The medical examination was done only on June 22, presumably to weaken the evidence.
Here is where we can actually help this feisty girl who is fighting an entire family and system. The Bihar police dragged its feet even after the girl was gang-raped is fighting for her right to live with dignity. Now in a critical condition, she is fighting for her life.
Finally, giving into pressure, the police have arrested all the five accused, but giving a Kafkaesque twist to the crime the medical report now claims 'no rape' (external link) since the girl was only examined one week after the incident.
The gang-rape was no crime of passion. The rapists were an entire family and the brutal gang-rape was committed after the protests by Nirbhaya and the mother over her earlier molestation and blackmail. Clearly, it is an assertion of the 'right to rape' abetted by a compliant administration.
This has eerie parallels to Malda where the Class 9 girl and her mother were thrashed with rods and sticks when they went to the home of a harasser to complain to the parents about abuse. This is not a case of an errant criminal, but one who has the support and backing of his family.
The Bihar Nirbhaya case is of a feisty girl and her mother fearlessly fighting family samskaras that condone rape. In the language of Indian politics, it is a secular rape, one that must be hushed up by the media, administration, and 'liberal' feminists.
It is a case where social and alternate media can bring pressure on the Bihar government and perhaps directly come to the aid and support of the victim, who is mercifully alive.
Let us trend #BiharsNirbhaya, see if there can be some local assistance for the victim and her family and also to contact local police officers and others.
This Nirbhaya is alive and fearlessly fighting injustice. Don't let her down.