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The devil lives next door

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By Sidharth Mishra

This sad story which may have been reported with bare facts that a four-year-old child was raped by a 40 year-old-man. The English newspaper reading class is seldom known to look at such reports beyond the headline, often dismissing it as one such another incident in one of those debased jhuggi-jhopri colonies.

But here I met a father last Sunday tending his four-year-old daughter at a government hospital. The child has just been medically examined in the presence of a woman constable by a lady doctor and she found her hymen to be ruptured. She was raped a few hours ago and the doctors did their best to gather medical evidence of the vile incident, which meant a lot of pain for the poor child. 

She cried of pain as the father that sultry evening waved a magazine to soothe her with some air inside the car, where she tried resting having undergone the ordeal of medical examination. The mother, meanwhile, stood witness to the process of the various samples being pasted on the slides and sealed for examination by the forensic laboratory. She had to suffer the ignominy of affirming on each sample that she was the rape victim’s mother.

An IIM t-shirt that the child’s father wore caught attention. One went to the father to check if he was actually from an IIM. “Not just IIM, before that IIT but what use, please leave me alone, please avoid peeping inside the car,” he murmured in a shaken voice.

One moved away wondering how could a four-year-old child from a such an ‘educated’ family be raped. ‘It must have been the doing of a domestic help, or security guard or may be a visiting plumber or electrician,” one thought. One could not overcome the bias that the assaulter could be from the same ‘sophisticated’ gentry as the victim.

Snubbed by father, one started a conversation with the woman constable, who looked like a fresh recruit and absolutely rattled by what she was handling. She was being admonished by the doctor for failing to have done a proper paper work. Once a reporter, always a reporter, one consoled her with the purpose of extracting information of where the incident had taken place.

Finding emotional support, the perturbed cop said, “Where is a woman safe, tell me sir.” She then blurred name of the high end condominium where the child stayed with her family. The father would often be out traveling and the young mother, with an older son, would find great support from their neighbours - an old couple with a middle-aged son.

“Achche padhe likhe log hain, theek-thak paisewale hain, achchi naukri hain aur dekho kya kiya (they are well educated, reasonably prosperous, have a good job and looked what they did,” the woman cop was giving a vent to both her angst and anger. The doctor called the cop into the chamber, the samples had been sealed, with the mother’s thumb impression on each of the sealed envelop was affixed. They were handed over to the young cop who represented the law enforcing agency.

With procedure over, victim’s mother slowly walked out of the doctor’s chamber to their vehicle parked outside. She had no strength left to tread a distance of barely 100 metres. On seeing her, the eight-nine year old son rushed out to help her mother walk probably the longest lap of her life.

The family was now inside their small little car, their small little family’s safe space. The father was at the steering manoeuvring the vehicle out of the narrow space. One did not have the courage to even wave a good-bye to them.

(The writer is an author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice)


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