Monday, October 19, 2015

A Rapist’s Nightmare

  NY Times   FOR as long as anyone can remember, upper-caste men in a village here in northern India preyed on young girls. The rapes continued because there was no risk: The girls were destroyed, but the men faced no repercussions.

Now that may be changing in the area, partly because of the courage of one teenage girl who is fighting back. Indian law doesn’t permit naming rape victims, so she said to call her Bitiya — and she is a rapist’s nightmare. This isn’t one more tragedy of sexual victimization but rather a portrait of an indomitable teenager whose willingness to take on the system inspires us and helps protect other local girls. [...]

Bitiya, who is from the bottom of the caste system, is fuzzy about her age but thinks she was 13 in 2012 when four upper-caste village men grabbed her as she worked in a field, stripped her and raped her. They filmed the assault and warned her that if she told anyone they would release the video and also kill her brother.

So Bitiya initially kept quiet.

Six weeks later Bitiya’s father saw a 15-year-old boy watching a pornographic video — and was aghast to see his daughter in it. The men were selling the video in a local store for a dollar a copy.

Bitiya is crying in the video and is held down by the men, so her family accepted that she was blameless. Her father went to the police to file a report.

The police weren’t interested in following up, but the village elders were. They decided that Bitiya, an excellent student, should be barred from the local public school.

“They said I was the wrong kind of girl, and it would affect other girls,” Bitiya said. “I felt very bad about that.”

Eventually, public pressure forced the school to take her back, but the village elders continue to block the family from receiving government food rations, apparently as punishment for speaking out. [...]

Bitiya says she does not feel disgraced, because the dishonor lies in raping rather than in being raped. And the resolve that she and her family display is having an impact. The rape suspects had to sell land to pay bail, and everybody in the area now understands that raping girls may actually carry consequences. So while there were many rapes in the village before Bitiya’s, none are believed to have occurred since. [...]

In one village, I asked a large group of men about rape. They insisted that they honor women and deplore rape — and then added that the best solution after a rape is for the girl to be married to the rapist, to smooth over upset feelings.

“If he raped her, he probably likes her,” explained Shiv Govind, an 18-year-old.[...]

1 comment :

  1. This recalls the halacha that a rape victim can force the perpetrator to marry her without ever being allowed to divorce her.


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