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Life after Rape

Living as a woman: does it have to be so tough all the time?

Last year, a woman was raped in a moving car in Kolkata. She was coming out of a five-star hotel on Kolkata’s posh Park Street when five young boys kidnapped her and later raped her. The victim, a mother of two daughters, did not find any compassion with the police in Kolkata. Today, she is working with an NGO which provides help for traumatized women. She spoke to DW correspondent Prabhakar Mani about her struggle to come to terms with her life.

How did your life change after the incident last year?

Last year was very difficult for me. I think it was the worst phase of my life. After the rape, I had to close down my call centre. I didn’t have enough money to pay my daughters’ school fees or the rent for my house. We had to shift to a smaller place. I didn’t know what to do. The thought of committing suicide occurred to me several times, but I had to live for my children. I did not have any desire to live. I kept struggling against the circumstances.

Who helped you overcome of the trauma?

Only my family. My neighbors began casting slander on my character. Tell me, is it a crime for a mother of two to go out for a party? People behaved as if I were an untouchable. Why should women be accused if they have been raped? Society still thinks otherwise, they show their compassion, but their eyes tell a different story.

Is this the attitude in our society?

It’s an incorrect attitude. After such an incident, a victim needs moral affirmation from society. But instead of doing that, people try to take advantage of the situation and blame her for the way she leads her life or the way she dresses. This mentality needs to change. In spite of us living in the 21st century, people haven’t changed their attitude. A woman is considered fine until she becomes a victim of rape and suddenly she is treated like an untouchable.

Have the main accused in your case been brought to justice?

After the incident, several prominent ministers and leaders made me responsible for what had happened. Some police officers did help me but they paid for it. Now I am focusing on my life. Last year, I tried to get a job but everyone turned me away, citing some vague reason or other.  The job I now have has given me a new lease of life. I even took my daughters out for a treat at a Chinese restaurant.

How does your NGO support victims of rape?

I have suffered it myself, so I can understand what these women go through. We talk to each other and try to break the myth that women who undergo this trauma are responsible for it. Life goes on even after such an incident.

I believe you are writing a book on women’s safety?

Yes and I have several supporters for my project. This book will have advice especially for women who travel at night. It will also have tips on how to deal with the police and the law after such an incident. I am satisfied that I am helping women who have undergone the same trauma as I have. I hope no one has to go through what I have experienced.

Interview: Prabhakar Mani/mg

Editor: Arun Chowdhury


05.06.2013 | 13:43