Monday, July 2, 2018

I called him bhaiya, yet he raped me over and over again

She speaks out for others who have been abused, but this 19-year-old student still hasn’t been able to open up to her parents

‘I was too young to know how to protest, how to make my parents understand that I was being raped, again and again.

In villages, everyone knows everyone else, in fact most of us are related. My rapist was a distant cousin. He was in college; I wasn’t even 10 years old. I called him ‘bhaiya’ (brother), yet he raped me each time I went to his house in our village in Haryana.

My mother would send me to his house to buy milk. That’s when he’d rape me. At that age, I couldn’t understand what was happening but I knew it was not right.

I would protest when my mother asked me to get milk, but couldn’t muster the courage to tell her what was happening to me. Every time I refused to go she asked me why. Finally, she started going to get the milk herself.

The abuse stopped when we moved to the city. A few years later, that cousin came visiting. He was married. I turned and ran to my room, and refused to come out. My parents scolded me for behaving badly. My heart yearned to tell them but courage failed me again. I was around 12 at that time. I never saw him again.

Last year, after I joined college, I heard about a voluntary organisation that encouraged people to break their silence around sexual abuse and harassment. I joined the group. Just being part of the group has made me realise that there are more people who have been sexually assaulted than I ever imagined.
In the group, I gained the confidence to speak, and with that came the conviction to question all that was wrong around me. Now, if I see someone staring, pushing or trying to grope someone, I shout to him to stop. The sad part is that others don’t come forward to help or support. They just watch; this needs to change. Only if we rise collectively, can we hope to instill fear in the hearts and minds of those who sexually harass women

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