South Asia

Christian rape victim fights the system for justice

A Christian mother of two who was abducted, repeatedly raped, and nearly killed by two men last week (4 July 2017) in the Indian State of Uttarakhand, is now engaged in a battle for justice.

Mannat (name changed), 26, was abducted by two men from the Sultanpur chowk, when she was on her way to visit her father in Ajitpur in a shared car around 2pm. Her abductors snatched her from the car and carried her to a nearby jungle. 

They forced two bottle of ‘raw liquor’ into her mouth. Then they took turns to rape and sodomize her for about 4 hours.

“The two men were drunk and after raping me, one of them started to choke me by pressing my throat. They said to each other that let us kill her. Then after few minutes, one of them took a belt and started to whip me on my back. They beat me mercilessly and then told me, ‘Your husband is away for work, we will drop you home, don’t tell anybody about what happened. Your husband will also not come to know. We will spare your life, if you abide by what we say. Pretend everything is normal and you can continue to live your life as usual. But if you disclose to anybody about what happened, we will kill you.’,” said Mannat to a source, who informed Global Christian News.

The source saw Mannat on 6 July said, “The nerves of Mannat’s neck are severely swollen and it is evident from her condition that she has been raped, was brutally assaulted and attempted to be killed. I am amazed how she survived.”

“One of the men had harassed Mannat in the past as well because Mannat and her husband had started following Christianity and Mannat had tattooed a cross on her hand. This man used to call her names often and used to indulge in verbal abuse because of the change in her faith and used to ‘eve tease’ [a euphemism used in South Asia referring to sexual harassment] her as well.

Two weeks prior to this incident Mannat had slapped the man who was harassing her.

“The incident of rape seems to be in retaliation to that particular incident,” said the source, who wishes to remain anonymous.  

The rapists put her on the motor bike and drove her back. But when they saw her husband returning from work at the Bhogpur area, they dropped Mannat there and absconded. 

Her husband took care of her in her battered state and did not approach authorities till next morning. 

When Mannat and her husband approached the women’s commission the next day, they were directed to the police station after the commission expressed their helplessness in the matter. 

At the Laksar Police Station, they were made to wait since from 11 am till 5 pm but no complaint was registered. The Police termed the whole incident an ‘internal village matter’ and then called the elders of the village council and the two men who had raped her to the police station. There Mannat was pressurized to resolve the issue through a compromise and was given the option of beating her two rapists if she so wanted. 

“The head of the village handed over shoes to my wife and asked her to hit the two men, with the shoe as much as she wants and drop the matter then and there,” said Mannat’s husband in an interview with Global Christian News.

The mother and relatives of one of the rapists came to Mannat’s home late on the same evening and threatened them with dire consequences if they pursued justice. 

The following day (6 July) the village elders held a meeting again, where the two rapists were allegedly beaten lightly by the villagers and Mannat and her husband were offered Ten Thousand Rupees (nearly 120 GBP) to drop the matter. The village elders threatened the couple that ‘action’ would be taken against them if they went to the police.

Mannat and her husband then approached a local Advocate who accompanied them to the Senior Superintendent of Police’s (SSP) office. 

“We narrated the incident at the SSP office, but our complaint was taken very apprehensively,” said Advocate Rohit Singh to Global Christian News. 

“After submitting the complaint, we went to the government hospital where she was, at first, denied treatment that she so badly needed,” said Advocate Singh. 

“With great difficulty and after pleading with the hospital staff, I got her a bed. But soon some villagers turned up at the hospital and Mannat and her husband had to leave for home again, without getting treated,” said Singh. 

Global Christian News spoke to the SSP, Haridwar, who falsified Mannat’s claim, saying instead that according to information available with him, Mannat went with the boys on a payment basis implying that she was a prostitute.

Mannat and her husband continue to face pressure to change their statements. They spent a further day (7 July) at the local police station resisting attempts to persuade them.