Child marriage, incest, gangrape, unwanted pregnancy: The unspeakable misery of several girl children
Doctors are undecided about carrying out the abortion on medical grounds. She could lose her life because of her tender age, they have warned
Usha (name changed) is pregnant but wants an abortion. She told Beed Police that she had no idea who the father was. In less than a year, she claims to have been raped by several hundred men including policemen. On her complaint police have arrested nine of the men but no policeman has yet been booked.
Doctors are undecided about carrying out the abortion on medical grounds. She could lose her life because of her tender age, they have warned.
While the government is reluctant to criminalise marital rape or take effective steps against child marriage, Usha’s story serves to highlight the plight of thousands of girl children. Child marriages are said to have surged during the pandemic and Usha too was in 2020 forcibly married to a man more than twice her age.
Her travails started when Usha lost her mother at the tender age of eight. When she grew to 13 years last year and was studying in class VII as a hosteller in a village school, her father stopped her schooling and took her back home. She was then forcibly married to a man who was 33 years old. For the next eight months she put up with domestic abuse and forced sex. Exasperated with daily abuses and physical beatings, in January this year she returned home and refused to go back to her husband.
A fresh nightmare started for her when her own father forced himself on her and demanded sexual gratification. In June this year, she went to the police and complained. But police did not register her complaint. Instead, they summoned her father to the police station and counselled him. Usha was advised to go back home to prevent the scandal from affecting her home.
But she refused to go back home and opted to beg at the bus stand for a living. The alms were not always enough to feed her and one day when she was particularly hungry, a boy offered to arrange food for her. She accompanied the boy who was soon joined by a companion and both of them raped her. The word soon spread and other men from the locality and beyond began to harass her.
When social workers finally rescued and took her to the police, she confided that she had tried to escape but failed. She also alleged that among her rapists there were a few policemen too. She has not kept count but claims she would have been raped by 400 men. A policeman, she said, had even taken her home before forcing himself on her. Another policeman, she said, took her to a hotel. One of the policemen left her with a woman who forced her into the sex trade. The ‘aunty’, she confided, would pay her Rs. 400 every day.
Beed Police Superintendent R. Raza has assured of stern action but activist Ashok Tangre wonders why no action has so far been taken against policemen identified by Usha. Had the police arrested her father when she complained against him, she could have been spared considerable trauma.
(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)