March 31st, 2017
A 15-year-old girl from Chennai set herself on fire after being allegedly raped by her 36-year-old uncle who threatened to circulate the video of the act on Whatsapp.
On Wednesday evening, the girl came back from school to an empty house, locked herself in her room and set herself on fire. Hearing her screams, the neighbours rushed her to Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital where she was declared brought dead.
The accused, Sarvanan, is a school correspondent married to the girl’s aunt. He is a father of a 12-year old daughter. A case has been registered against him under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code and section 4 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. He has absconded since the girl’s death.
As reported by The New Indian Express, the police said that her parents were aware of the incident and chose to keep quiet for fear of “damage to family reputation.” After her death, they found a suicide note written by her, saying that she holds Sarvanan responsible for her death.
During the ongoing investigations, her parents informed the police that their daughter was raped in her aunt’s house when she was alone with Sarvanan who offered her a soft drink spiked with drugs. After she fell unconscious, she was raped and also filmed on the accused’s mobile phone.
Since the incident, the man had been blackmailing her with the video, threatening to circulate it among her friends on Whatsapp. The Times of India reported that she was repeatedly harassed by her uncle who kept asking her to come home and threatened to ruin her aunt’s life. In February, too, she attempted suicide. The 15-year old finally took her life on Wednesday evening when she saw no way out.
The Logical Indian Take
Who is to be blamed for her death? Her uncle, her parents or the society which expected her to uphold her family’s “reputation” above and beyond anything else?
As a 15-year old girl, her parents were her protectors. But they chose to silence her, rather than ensuring that her rapist is punished.
They are also responsible for her death as her uncle.
We live in an era where “reputation” matters more than an individual’s well-being and “societal acceptance” matters more than a person’s life.
But who sets these depthless standards?
What “damage to reputation” could an FIR against Sarvanan have possibly caused?
Like most rape cases, the accused here is a family member – a person who was supposed to protect the girl and not cause her any harm which forces her to take her own life.
The Logical Indian strongly believes that the girl’s life could have been saved if her parents showed some sensitivity toward the incident. Silencing their daughter meant telling her that rape is acceptable and the only way to deal with the assault is to gulp down your pain till you can no longer deal with it.