Raped, pregnant and banished, 11-yr-old struggles for justice


Jul 19, 2017-

One morning in December last year, Ramala (name changed) of Yaku village in Bhojpur was cooking meal at home, a responsibility that the 11-year-old had to shoulder quite often as her parents would go to the fields to work. Her three-year-old brother had gone out to play.

Twenty-year-old Durga Bahadur Shrestha then took advantage of the situation and sexually assaulted her. 

“I was cooking when he accosted me. He shut my mouth and pounced on me. He threatened to beat me up and kill my mother. I was so scared that I could not talk  to anyone about the incident,” said the minor, who was too young to realise that she was being subjected to sexual assault. 

She had had her first period early that month.

Last month, when Ramala and her mother were preparing to go to bed, the mother realised her daughter had a swollen belly. When asked, she confided the incident and fears to her mother. The following day her mother took her to the nearby health facility where they came to know she was seven-month pregnant. It was too late for abortion, they were told. 

“The whole world came crashing down around me,” the mother said. A village meeting was called where families of both the man and the girl were present. Durga Bahadur admitted to the crime, but his family refused to “accept the Dalit girl”, saying she was born to a Newar father and a Dalit mother.

On Sunday, the girl was banished from the village.

“We could not keep our daughter in our own home due to threats from villagers,” said the father. 

The perpetrator took the girl to Dharan on June 30. After three days, Shrestha disappeared. “I had never been to Dharan before. There were two beds where I was kept. We did not speak a word. On the third day when he did not return until late, I walked out,” said the victim. 

A woman helped her get in touch with her maternal uncle and aunt who were in Dharan. But she could not muster courage to return home. Her uncle and aunt then approached District Women and Children Office. 

On Tuesday, they brought the girl to the district headquarters as per the advice from Women and Children Officer Pushpalata Upreti. 

“She has been left in the lurch only because her mother is a Dalit. Not only the boy’s family, the entire village has banished her. We are seeking justice,” said the uncle. The victim does not want to live with the perpetrator. She wants to continue her studies. 

But how? She does not know. 

“We have managed to get the girl to the district headquarters. We have recommended action against the culprit,” said Upreti. 

DSP Kaji Kumar Acharya said the District Police Office has already registered a complaint against the perpetrator. The man has been arrested from Dharan. “We will soon bring the perpetrator to the district headquarters,” said DSP Acharya. 

Meanwhile, the sub-regional office of the National Human Rights Commission has written to the district police, asking it to find out the details and furnish a detailed report on the investigation so far and initiatives taken to ensure the victim’s physical and mental safety.

Published: 19-07-2017 07:02

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