NEW DELHI: Next month, a daily wage labourer from Bihar living in Gurgaon will move court to prove that one of the men who raped his daughter—named Gudiya by the journalists with a yen for pulp fiction emotion three years ago—was not a minor. He might also move house. But Gudiya doesn’t know why. She has no friends because neighbours treat her like a pariah, warning their kids to keep away, as if the trauma of rape somehow made the seven-year-old girl is a contagion. Each time they relocated to another poor locality, her father had to hide her identity.
Thank the good Samaritans for that. Frequent visits by journalists, politicians, police and NGO workers wherever the family went made Gudiya’s plight known in the neighbourhood.
“Various media and NGO people with cameras used to visit us. Seeing all the attention we received, the neighbours got curious. When they got to know that Gudiya was raped, they shunned us. They stopped their kids from talking to our kids as if they had done something horrible, though the opposite is true,” says Sukhdev (name changed), her father. The family has moved house six times so far and there is no telling there won’t be a seventh.
Four years ago, Gudiya was found tied up and unconscious in the basement of a building by her mother two days after she was taken by two men from Bihar, Manoj Kumar and his aide, who’s claiming himself to be a juvenile. Doctors found traces of candles and broken bottles inside her. She underwent four surgeries. The men were booked under the Protection of Child Rights Act (2005)—one of them as a juvenile, though he later proved otherwise using an ossification test.
The court declared him juvenile on the basis of a school document, but Gudiya’s parents are not willing to give up. Their daughter is not able to fully comprehend the horror that was visited on her for two days and nights of violation and torture. Says Sukhdev, “She still complains of pain and weakness, but says innocently that extra homework may be responsible,” his voice breaks as he narrates Gudiya’s tragic situation. He is indignant about the discrimination of neighbours. “Why do we have to hide who we are? My daughter doesn’t understand what happened to her. All she remembers is she was bleeding and people came to meet her in hospital,” he says.
It’s not just in the city that Gudiya is an outcast. Her father says people back in their village behave as if she is infected with some deadly disease. The villagers claim no one will marry her; which is Sukhdev’s main concern for her future. “What is her fault? I am giving her good education,” he says.
A wiser man, Sukhdev has barred strangers from visiting his home. He will meet them at their workplace and avoids meeting mediapersons carrying equipment.
“When the incident took place, everyone from Sonia Gandhi to Sushma Swaraj came to meet my daughter but after that no one turned up.” Happening as it did a few months after the December 2012 gangrape, Gudiya’s case made outraged headlines. Strangers tied teddy bears to her wheelchair as she was being taken for surgery. Now, four years later, as the family moves court again, they hope they won’t have to move house, too.