CHENNAI: “Nobody believed me...” These words of a 15-year-old girl in her suicide note came as a stark reminder as to how families often ignore what minor sexual abuse victims reveal to protect family honour.
The Class X girl set herself afire when she was alone at home on Wednesday allegedly after her uncle not only raped her but also threatened to release videos of the act.
The suicide note, accessed by Express, reflects the trauma the girl had been undergoing since last September when uncle Saravanan (35), who runs a private school, allegedly raped her. She had told her grandparents about the incident after she failed in her attempt to commit suicide shortly after the rape. Yet, they did not report it to the police.
The note speaks of the girl’s aunt (the accused’s wife) who had blamed the victim and the girl’s grandmother who had even wanted her to be married off to the accused.
“My mother wanted me to marry off my daughter to him (the accused). We resisted it. We were not aware that he had been blackmailing my daughter,” the girl’s father claimed on Thursday. Though the girl’s family had snapped ties with the accused after the incident, they did not lodge a police complaint.
The suicide note says she kept telling her family members about the video her uncle had been blackmailing her with to have sex with him again. But no one took it seriously.
“If I am alive, it will bring only disrepute to you all...” the girl said in the note.
“She was found depressed for the last two days. But on that day she got up early and dressed up. We never thought she had such a thing in her mind,” said the girl’s mother. She completed her Class X board exams and was awaiting the result. On Thursday, the police arrested Saravanan.
Andrew Sesuraj, State Convener, Tamil Nadu Child Rights Observatory (TNCRO), pointed out that a research carried out in 2007 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development showed that 70 per cent of crimes against children were committed by a person known to them. Based on this, the POCSO Act also had made punishments more severe.
“Parents and teachers have to be more responsible in such cases and identify the child’s problem and study their behaviour. They should break the silence and make the child overcome the fear. The more they ask the child to remain silent on the issue owing to their family honour, the more it encourages the perpetrator to continue with his behaviour,” he said adding this makes the child feel betrayed.