The ordeal for an 11-year-old tribal girl from Madhya Pradesh, who was brutally raped last month, seems to have just begun. The young girl has already been punished twice — once for keeping quiet about the rape, by being raped again, and the second time for fighting back. The second time around, she received 23 injuries, according to medical officers who treated her.
It was in early February when the girl's 24-year-old neighbour, Shankar Lal Yadav, allegedly raped her the first time. She kept quiet about the assault she was scared by his threats, she later told her rescuers. Later that month, Yadav allegedly raped her again when her parents were out of town on work. This time she fought back, which only resulted in almost two dozen injuries that Yadav allegedly inflicted on her body parts with a blade. A gash on her face and severe head injuries knocked her unconscious.
She was later found by her relatives in a farm outside her village in Hoshangabad district, 10 kilometres away from Itarsi city. She was rushed to the city's government hospital, and then to Kamla Nehru Hospital in Bhopal, where she regained senses only a day later. Police investigation has confirmed rape.
After spending over two weeks in hospital, recuperating from her physical injuries, the girl's return home cast fresh wounds. She was reportedly scorned and boycotted in her village, forcing her father to send the child to a shelter home.
“They have spoiled the life of my youngest daughter. I have five more daughters, and for their safety and the safety of my youngest daughter, I have to send her to a shelter home,” her father told Hindustan Times.
"They have spoiled the life of my youngest daughter"
The girl's ordeal is not just a result of gender discrimination, even though victim shaming is extremely common in India. The girl also belongs to a "lower" caste in a community which is predominated by Yadavs, who are from a "higher" caste.
Despite reassurances from the local police, the family is reportedly living in mortal fear of being ousted by the community.
“Nobody wants to allow [her] to live in the village,” a relative of the victim reportedly told 'Gauravi', which is the country's first one-stop government crisis centre for women. "[She] is being treated as a culprit. Every day, people curse the family members. They are being pressured and threatened to throw [her] out of the village."
"Instead of (sympathising) with her, villagers are cursing her just because of her caste. Our team visited the place and witnessed it,” said Sarika Sinha, who is a member of 'Gauravi'.
“I can’t explain the level of exploitation."
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