Friday, August 04, 2006


I’m a member of the Hyderabad Chapter of Youth for Equality (YFE). Yes, that very organization that is/was fighting against reservation and made some waves before the interest dies out and the media moved on to other stories. See – I always argued that the media has more power than most entities in the country – but that’s a discussion for another time, another day.

What I want to write about is something very sad and very shocking that has happened. A blind man approached one of the active members of YFE Hyderabad, asking if we could help with a problem. This blind man had sent his 7 year old daughter to their relatives place in another city, for her studies. When the little girl went home to her father during vacations, she revealed that her 45 year old uncle had been raping her over the last 2-3 months. Probably, there was no way the girl could have told her father earlier about it.

The father is blind and very poor. He makes a living by singing in small time religious get-togethers. I salute his hope, his courage and his determination to see that justice is done. It’s been over a year since he reported the case to the Maharashtra police. The police have not even filed a charge sheet as they are yet to receive a report from Gandhi Medical Hospital in Hyderabad. This man is running around between the police station in Maharasthra and the hospital in Hyderabad. He hasn’t lost his faith in the system…yet.

I’ve always been of the opinion that child abuse is rather widespread in India but it’s just that we turn a blind eye to it. Hell, I was fondled, felt up and kissed when I was about 8. I didn’t know what was happening – just that I didn’t like it at all. And even at that age, I intuitively knew it was something bad and never told anyone about the incident. It’s taken me these many years to be able to talk about it. About a year ago, four of childhood friends had a sleepover. And I was shocked to know that each of us had had some such experience when we were kids. For one friend, it was her swimming instructor who kissed her. For one friend it was a fellow churchgoer and for another friend, it was the office boy in her father’s office. And we are all from well-educated, middle/upper-middle class families. And we never told anyone. For even at that age, we intuitively knew that this was not something that was to be made public.

And that is the general tendency – to sweep such things under the carpet for fear of what ‘society will think’, for fear of the possible treatment the child might face from those around her, for fear of running the reputation of the girl’s family. In such a scenario, this brave man is fighting the battle all by himself. After a year in which all his efforts bore no result, his determination has not waned. Courage – someday, I hope I will be able to have some of the courage this great man does.

The news has left me angry, outraged, shaken up. What kind of an animal will do that to a little seven year old? In what kind of an environment did he grow up that he has turned out to be like this? And what kind of a society are we living in that we see such atrocities happening and turn a blind eye to it?

I feel so helpless and wish I could do something. Two members of YFE Hyderabad have filed an application under the RTI Act at Gandhi Medical Hospital. Maybe we should send a mail to the local press. I don’t know what should be done. I’ve heard a lot of such stories but this is the first time I’ve actually been this close to something like this. I don’t have much faith in the system, the police, or the law when it comes to dealing with rape – but this extraordinary father’s belief and determination to see to it that justice is done lets me hope that this time, maybe, just maybe, it will.