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Dec
16

forgotten-victimsNEW DELHI: Nirbhaya’s brutal gang rape on this date exactly a year ago led to an upsurge that jolted the country. But there were others too who suffered abuse on that fateful night. Their cases never attracted attention and their prospects of getting justice appear extremely bleak.

Barely nine, Raju was sodomized and thrashed on December 16, 2012. When he didn’t come home even after dark, his mother went looking for him in the forest that overlooks an upscale locality in Vasant Vihar. He was found unconscious and profusely bleeding.

Razia is in her early 20s and lives in a slum inNew Seemapuri. Her house doesn’t have a toilet. Around 10pm on December 16, she had stepped out to answer nature’s call. Trouble was waiting for her. A man tried to force himself upon her, and only stopped because a group of children arrived on the spot. Around the same time elsewhere, Nirbhaya was trying to fend off her attackers in a chartered bus.

“The Nirbhaya case took away all the attention. My son was also raped, but the media never came to our place, though the spot where it happened was not even a kilometre away from the Munirka bus stand,” said Raju’s mother. They live in a JJ cluster in Vasant Vihar’s Kusumpur Pahri.

Raju continues to be traumatized by the incident. He has lost a lot of weight, keeps to himself most of the time, and doesn’t go to the forest anymore. That day, he had gone to the forest to play with his buddies after school. That’s when he met Ravi, who had come to feed his pigs. “He first asked me my name and family’s details while stroking my back. He asked me if I would like to feed the pigs with him. He then asked me to take off my pants as there will be water and it was already getting cold,” said Raju. What followed is something Raju desperately wants to forget.

Razia, too, is still living the ordeal. “We went to the nearby police station the next day to file a complaint. I had to repeat the incident five times to different officers, giving every detail,” she recalled.

They were sent back with a promise that the case would be probed, but nothing was given in writing. “We were told that it’s not really rape but molestation,” she said.

After two days, police turned up at the slum cluster and asked Razia to identify the accused publicly. Fearing persecution, the family decided to drop all charges and move on. That’s when they realized that moving on was difficult, especially with everyone around them talking about Razia as a ‘rape victim’. Razia doesn’t step out of her home much, while her attacker — a father of three— roams freely in the neighbourhood. The family has been contemplating shifting to Seelampur, but poverty has been holding them back. “Who will marry her now?” her ragpicker father wonders.

Similarly, Ravi, who was charged under article 377, is now out on bail and the matter is pending in court. “We thought that the law is more stringent now. But even the people have taken him back. Three days ago, our paths crossed and he kept staring at me. Now, I don’t allow Raju to go out and play,” Raju’s mother says.

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