Skip to main content

Indian girl seeks justice after gang rape

By Sumnima Udas, CNN and Anjani Trivedi, for CNN
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Sat October 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The teenager kept her rape ordeal secret for 10 days
  • When her father heard about his daughter's suffering he killed himself by swallowing pesticide
  • Local police say rape incidents have fallen in Haryana over recent months, and that recent cases have attracted "hype"
  • Women's rights groups say there is an increasing gap between the number of men and women in Haryana

Haryana, India (CNN) -- She's just 16 years old and one month ago was about to sit her final-year exams when she says she was shoved into a car and gang-raped by eight men in a small village in the Indian state of Haryana.

"I remember being driven by the canal, all the guys were standing there then four more boys came on a motorbike," said the teenager, who had been hoping to be the first female high school graduate in her family.

"There were approximately 12 men. Eight men raped me, they then fed me a pill, they filmed the whole thing and left."

The teenager kept her ordeal secret for 10 days before her mother noticed something was wrong.

"She would just lie in bed all day, she wouldn't talk, she wouldn't eat, I thought she was ill. Those rapists had threatened to kill our family and show the video to the entire village if she opened her mouth," she said.

The 16-year-old's mother also remained silent.

"People told me to forget about what had happened. They said this is a matter of your daughter's reputation. Who will marry her if people find out she was raped? Let it be, don't make a big deal," she said.

Bollywood star: The Truth Alone Prevails

When her father heard about the rape video, he couldn't live with the thought of his daughter's pain and how she would be judged by society, her mother said.

He committed suicide by swallowing pesticides.

Devastated by his death, the teenager vowed to seek justice, not only for herself but other rape victims in Haryana, many of whom are too scared to report the crime.

"It happens a lot with dalit [lower caste] girls but they keep quiet because they fear for their reputation. I probably would not have spoken up either but I didn't want my father's sacrifice to go to waste," she said.

Child marriage is not a solution to protecting girls from sexual crimes including rape
U.N. agencies letter

Police say all eight of the accused rapists have been arrested and are awaiting trial.

In the past month, at least 17 other young women have reported rapes in Haryana, a relatively sparsely-populated state in the country's northwest.

In 2011, 733 rapes were reported throughout the state, a fraction of the 24,206 cases alleged throughout the country over the full year. While more than 24,000 rapes were reported, convictions were only recorded for just over one quarter of cases, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Local police say the incidence of rape has fallen in Haryana over recent months, and that recent cases have attracted "hype."

"The nature of the crime created hype in the number of rape cases registered in Haryana," said Satish Balan, Police Superintendent of the Hisar district. "In two cases there were suicides which led to media coverage of rapes in Haryana otherwise the number of rapes registered has come down by 15%. This is the truth."

Some local politicians blame progress and the proliferation of modern technology like mobile phones, internet, television and films for encouraging sex attacks.

However, women's rights groups say the increasing gap between the number of men and women in Haryana is one of the main contributors.

The 2011 National census revealed there were 877 females for every 1,000 males in the state, compared with the national ratio of 940 females to 1,000 males. High incidences of female feticide in Haryana are largely to blame for the imbalance, say rights groups, who say families traditionally value boys over girls.

Government of India census results

Provisional population results

The khap panchayats, or the self-appointed village caste councils, which have no legal authority, have suggested that lowering the legal age for marriage could cut the incidences of rape.

"The marriageable age for girls, which is 18 right now should be changed to 16 or 15 so then these cases will decrease, these will be stopped," council member Jitendra Chhattar told CNN.

The United Nations says lowering the marriageable age is not a solution.

In an open letter to the country's minister for Women and Child Development, Krishna Tirath, four U.N. agencies urged the Indian government to give the issue urgent attention.

"Child marriage is not a solution to protecting girls from sexual crimes including rape. In fact, child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal and the development of healthy communities," the letter said.

Tirath told CNN in an interview Thursday that she strongly condemned the cases of rape being reported in Haryana.

"I will be taking the issue up with the Chief Minister of Haryana to take strict and stringent action to ensure that safety and security of women is not compromised in anyway. We are already working on the issues on the child-sex ratio and giving it the highest priority," she said.

Opinion: Make schools safe for girls everywhere

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT