CHENNAI : Yen ponnuku nadanthathu, vera yarukum nadakakudathu ( What happened to my daughter should not happen to anybody else).”
This is what 13-year-old Rajalakshmi’s mother kept repeating after her daughter was beheaded by their neighbour on October 22. People claim that though many women supported #MeToo, no one stood up for the 13-year-old. In a bid to make sure her plea reaches everyone, two men from Tamil Nadu recently visited numerous villages between Chennai to Salem on a bike spreading awareness on caste discrimination and sexual abuse.
“One morning, one of my friends, Lokesh rang me up asking if we could provide any financial assistance to Rajalakshmi’s family. I did not even know what the incident was about and when I surfed the Internet, not much was available.
But from whatever information I gathered, I decided that the public must know about the gruesome murder and that I must do something from my end to prevent such incidents,” said Hari Krishnan, a social activist. Last week, both Hari and Lokesh started from Chennai to Salem on a bike fitted with a board saying #JusticeforRajalakshmi. “Our first halt was the toll gate near Chengelpet.
Ninety per cent of the public did not know about the murder. While slowly educating them about the incident, we were making a conversation on how to avert situations like these,” said Hari. He said that the response from students of a government school near Tindivanam was heartening, “When we were talking about good touch, bad touch outside the school, a lot of students spoke up. Some faces acknowledged as if they were trying to remember something that has happened to them.
Though in cities people have started educating children about sexual abuse, children in interior pockets of Tamil Nadu still consider it a taboo. Frankly, not much effort is being taken to bring awareness on these aspects.” The duo have travelled more than 1,000 kilometres and spoken to over 60,000 people through their journey. They now aim to do this in other parts of Tamil Nadu as well.
The duo said that many people volunteered to help the family and a few anonymously shared their experiences of abuse. Some students came up to them and promised to talk about sexual abuse and spread awareness during their morning assemblies.
About the incident
A 13-year-old girl, near Salem in Tamil Nadu, was beheaded by her neighbour, Dinesh Kumar on October 22. The incident took place in Thalavaipatti near Aathur in Salem district. Dinesh had made sexual advances at 13-year-old Rajalakshmi who was a Dalit girl belonging to the Parayar community. She had spurned the advances and later informed her mother about the same. Angered by the fact that a Dalit girl had defied him and complained about him as well, he decided to kill her.