Politicians and Media Traumatise Bulandshahr Rape Survivors: A Second Rape by Society?
NEW DELHI: What is now being referred to as the ‘Bulandshahr Rape’ has turned into a second rape for the two mother and daughter after they survived the terrible ordeal, with the insensitivity and sheer callousness of the politicians, the police, the doctors, the media and society at large adding to the trauma that has robbed the family of all peace since.
The broken family has not been allowed to pick up the pieces of a shattering incident with genuine help still not available to them. Except for the villagers who rushed to their rescue as reports of the attack and rape spread through the area, no one outside their own family has given them the support they sorely need. The father who is braving the spotlights is visibly lost and confused, breaking down as he urges the media to leave them alone. And the family leaves their home to get away from the prying eyes and the publicity.
The men folk of the family travelling in a car on the National Highway were stopped by a gang, who beat up the men folk, looted them and gang raped the mother and daughter for three hours. They have still to be arrested, with only three men caught so far.
The male members of the family have shared some of the details with the media. Putting the reports together the following story emerges:
After the rape, when the dacoits had disappeared, the first help came from the villagers. The husband, a cab driver, tried desperately to call the police but the numbers remained unavailable or went unanswered. With everyone beaten and bleeding, and the woman and her daughter in a state of collapse, he could not reach help. The rape happened at 1.30 am, the police reached after 5p.m. And even after the police came, being literally begged by the family to come to the spot, they refused to register a case.
The doctors who they were taken to were worse. As he told the media, “I had bruises all over...my daughter was bleeding...but the doctor didn’t believe us. She said we were lying.” The teenager who was completely shaken and crying was told to sit quietly. The doctor on duty at the hospital claims now that she was just following procedure, but that ‘procedure’ clearly had no provision for giving emergency treatment to the victims of rape.
Finally, when the family made it to their home the ordeal continued. First in the form of politicians as the story broke who made a beeline in their security vehicles to the Noida residence, with no thought that the privacy of the family and the victims needed to be maintained. With elections in Uttar Pradesh around the corner, all shades and hues of political leaders landed up at the house with sirens blaring, as they tried to convince the family of their support. They left in the same blare of publicity and now no one cares that the family wants to leave the house where they had lived for 18 years because of this publicity. Instead Samajwadi party leader Azam Khan made a statement that the rape was a political conspiracy!
The media made no allowances, and arrived by the hordes at the doorstep of the family’s residence, sticking microphones into the faces of whosoever they met, from family to acquaintances, to neighbours, to passersby, for a byte. Privacy was turned into a joke as they grappled with each other for the ‘exclusive’. "My daughter was better till last night. With all the people visiting, she is now being asked to recall everything again. She has fallen sick again. She cannot stop crying. Please leave us alone. I wish we had never returned,” said the father breaking down in front of the media.
The Hindustan Times in an excellent report exposed the role of V cameramen and reporters: “ Near the girl’s house, there is hardly any space to stand. Everybody in the colony wants a glimpse of the girl and the mother who were raped in Bulandshahr on June 29 night. The camera persons — some of them perched on terraces — jostle to get the right shot, while reporters are fighting for a space to do their piece-to-camera.
Amid the circus, the girl’s father stands with a blank face, clueless.
“Muffle your face with a handkerchief and tell us who raped your daughter. We do not have time to blur the face, we need to send the visuals as soon as possible,” shouts a reporter. His camera person zooms the video camera into the face of the girl’s father. He does as directed.
After a detailed byte, the father removes the handkerchief. Just as he is about to go in, another set of reporters stop him and asks him to repeat himself.
“How many times should I repeat what happened with my daughter and my wife? They have been raped. What else do you want to know? My daughter was better till last night. With all the people visiting, she is now being asked to recall everything again. She has fallen sick again. She cannot stop crying. Please leave us alone. I wish we had never returned,” the father says with folded hands and breaks down. The reporters record that too. “Send this byte in the ticker,” shouts one.
The reporters have set up a camp of sorts in the girl’s house, having laid charpoys and placing their gadgets, tripods, cameras, mikes and laptops on it. When they get tired, they lie down to stretch their back, munching on chips. Some politicians also visited the family in the day.”
The neighbours now fully aware of what had happened to the family came out in the large numbers as if they were watching a play. Media reports suggest that instead of supporting the family, the neighbours predictably turned away, shunning them instead. "I don't know how we can face our neighbours and friends...The media is at our doorstep, people know what happened. A friend we were staying with has asked us to leave," the father said. Everyone knows the house, and visitors are pointed to it by the boys on the streets.
He kept urging the media to leave him alone, saying he just wanted to get away from the publicity. "You know what they did to my daughter...she doesn't speak much. Either hang them or we will hang ourselves." The young girl who sees the faces of the rapists when she closes her eyes, and has nightmares, did plead to be allowed to go to the same school. She probably wanted the familiarity of her friends but as the father said, she would not be able to withstand the jibes and the questions.
A media report speaking of her desire to be an “IAS officer’ strangely put this in the past sense. This telling headline which says that she “had” wanted to join the bureaucracy perhaps sums up the societal response to the victims, sounding a death knell when instead hands should have reached out to hold theirs, to embrace them, and give them the comfort the family so desperately needs.