A 38-YEAR-OLD woman who took part in the two-month-long Garima Yatra — a dignity march by survivors of sexual violence or their family members, all from rural Dalit and Adivasi communities — was assaulted by a mob in her village in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday morning, allegedly as punishment for having spoken out on the issue.
The woman, along with her husband, had returned to the village on Saturday, a day after the march culminated in Delhi. They took part in the march for their minor daughter, a rape survivor.
The woman said the mob surrounded their house and assaulted her, as well as her two minor daughters and mother-in-law. “There were about 35-40 people, mostly relatives of the accused. About a dozen of them hit me on my head repeatedly, until I started bleeding. I am barely able to walk as they hit me on my legs with sticks,” she told The Indian Express.
“When my husband and I were away for the yatra, they had come home and threatened my daughters and mother-in-law. The police were informed, but no protection was provided,” she said.
In a report on February 22, The Indian Express had profiled the case of the woman, who has resolved that her daughter should finish her education even if she has to carry chilli powder and scissors daily in her school-bag.
The girl’s father, a construction worker, had spoken of how, despite several police complaints, she was repeatedly stalked and molested by the accused for years before she was raped.
A case filed against the 26-year-old accused under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act is up for hearing on March 13.
Amu Vinzuda, one of the local volunteers for the Garima Yatra, alleged that the local police tried to pass off the assault as a skirmish between two groups. He said a case was registered against both parties, although the woman’s family had called up the police control room when the violence erupted. “Her family was detained at the police station on Sunday. It was only after we approached the Superintendent of Police on Monday, that they finally pressed the correct charges,” he said.
Superintendent of Police O P Singh confirmed that the family had called up the police control room. “After the details of the case were brought to my attention, I directed the local police to ensure that a medical examination is conducted and fresh charges are filed against those who attacked the family. We will ensure that protection is provided to the minor girl and her family,” he said.