UP: Father of Gangrape Victims Commits Suicide; Here’r Challenges Survivors Face to Overcome Rape Trauma Syndrome

"Ghar," directed by Manik Chatterjee, is a powerful movie released in 1978, that highlights the stigma attached to rape and the couple's struggle against societal judgments and prurient curiosity.
'Ghar' moves away from the regular revenge drama and focuses on trauma faced by a rape survivor  and her family members.
'Ghar' moves away from the regular revenge drama and focuses on trauma faced by a rape survivor and her family members.

Lucknow: In what can be said to be another example of the perennial agony that afflicts a rape victim, father of two gangrape victims committed suicide in Hamirpur district of Uttar Pradesh as he was unable to bear alleged pressure mounted on him for withdrawing the case against the accused.

He took the extreme step about a week after the two victims (his daughter and niece) committed ended their lives after allegedly being subjected to sexual assault by a group of men at a brick kiln at Ghatampur in Kanpur.

On February 28, the two girls were found hanging from a tree in the village. The victims’ family members accused three men — contractor Ram Roop, Sanju and Rajju — of raping the girls after forcing them to consume alcohol.

Unable to suffer from the trauma, the FIR said, the two women committed suicide. The three accused were arrested and sent to jail.

However, according to an FIR lodged by the son of the deceased man, one Nirmala — who has been identified as the wife of one of the accused — was pressuring the victim’s father to withdraw the case, threatening to implicate him in a false case.

“My father was intimidated by these threats and said that either Nirmala would get us killed or implicate us in a false case,” said the complainant in the FIR — which further adds that the body of the deceased was found hanging from a tree in a nearby jungle.

The accused lady has been arrested for abetment of suicide.

To understand the trauma and anxiety victims and their kins suffer after sexual violence, The Mooknayak spoke to mental health experts. 

But before knowing what they said, let’s have a look on few such cases where the victims or members of the family committed suicide in the state.

In 2023, father of a minor rape victim committed suicide, citing alleged delay in registration of FIR by the police.

In 2018, a girl belonging to Unnao, who was accompanied by four women of her family, attempted self-immolation in front of the residence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow — accusing the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of rape. 

The legislator was later convicted by the Tis Hazari Court in New Delhi in 2020.

In 2019, a 24-year-old woman took her life at Behdi village in Muzaffarnagar district by hanging herself from the ceiling of her house. Before committing the suicide, the gang-rape victim wrote the names of the perpetrators on the wall. 

The accused were released on bail a few days earlier.

There are numerous such cases where the victims and their family members have given up hope on law of the land or the stigma attached to such cases.

Psychiatrists and psychiatric counselors said the anxiety is compounded when the victim’s complaint is not heard by the authorities and the administration. They talked about something called the Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS).

What is the RTS?

It refers to the psychological and emotional effects experienced by individuals who have been subjected to sexual violence. The term was coined by noted Psychiatrist Ann Wolbert Burgess and Sociologist Lynda Lytle Holmstrom in 1974.

The RTS typically involves a series of emotional reactions and coping mechanisms that survivors may experience in the aftermath of a sexual assault. These reactions can vary widely among individuals.

It is important to note that not all survivors of sexual assault experience the RTS, and do not necessarily follow this exact sequence of reactions. 

Additionally, the symptoms and severity of the RTS can vary greatly from person to person.

Treatment for RTS typically involves supportive therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other trauma-focused interventions aimed at helping survivors process their experiences, manage symptoms and rebuild their lives.

Although there have been various cases where the rape survivors have resiliently fought their battle and brought their perpetrators to justice, there are ample of evidence that suggests that the agony and the stigma undergone by the rape victim takes a heavy toll on the mental health of the survivor. 

Not every women or her family members are able to overcome the mental anguish caused by the sexual violence that also brings a lot of ignominy and ‘shame’ to the victim.

Experts said survivors of sexual violence have an increased tendency of developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “They might constantly feel alarmed about a danger and may have distrust and scepticism regarding others.

“Woman are seen as some sort of an object, and now the object is sullied if she has been raped. There are some societies where a rape victim is done away with by the husband or the father because it’s a matter of honor. It’s not just the stigma, but victim shaming makes the situation worse for survivors. It’s like it was her fault,” Clifford W. DeSilva, director of Goa Institute of Counselling, told The Mooknayak.

This, according to him, can be addressed by general education. “The government’s slogan of ‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’ (Educate the Daughters, Save the Daughters) should in fact have been ‘Beta Padao’ (Educate Sons) so that he does not commit such sins. We need to educate ourselves. We need to change the certain cultural things that we have,” he said.

Archana Singh, manager of the One Stop Centre (181 women helpline), said, “The victims are subjected to medical tests and then the case is referred to the  police post. The police officials concerned send the victims to counselors at One Stop Centres,” she said, explaining the procedure.

Initial counselling helps the victims make statements under 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) without any fear.

She said after five-seven days of the counselling and medico-legal examinations, the victims are sent to their homes or else they are accommodated at rehabilitation centres.

She said follow-up counselling wherein victims are motivated is another phase, which helps them and their family members overcome the RTS.

"Ghar" stands as a poignant portrayal of the enduring impact of sexual violence and the resilience of its survivors.
"Ghar" stands as a poignant portrayal of the enduring impact of sexual violence and the resilience of its survivors.

Ghar - A Powerful Depiction of Rape Trauma Syndrome in Bollywood

In 1978, amidst a flurry of Bollywood thrillers like "Don," a small segment of the industry delved into films that closely examined the struggles of ordinary men and women. "Ghar," directed by Manik Chatterjee, stands out as a film that delves into the harrowing trauma experienced by a couple - Arti (Rekha) and her partner Vikas (Vinod Mehra) - after Arti's brutal rape.

The film begins with the romantic journey of the couple, whose relationship faces disapproval from Vikas's father. Despite this, they choose to marry and live separately in their own apartment. However, the crux of the film unfolds when the couple is attacked while walking home after a late-night movie. Vikas is beaten unconscious, while Arti is gang-raped by a group of inebriated thugs.

Instead of following the typical revenge narrative, where the male protagonist seeks vengeance through violence, "Ghar" focuses on the psychological aftermath of the incident. Despite the culprits being sentenced to seven years in jail, the couple continues to grapple with the trauma. The film highlights the stigma attached to rape and the couple's struggle against societal judgments and prurient curiosity.

The film concludes on a reconciliatory note, while shedding light on the post-rape trauma syndrome, a phenomenon that transforms into a lasting psychological affliction. "Ghar" stands as a poignant portrayal of the enduring impact of sexual violence and the resilience of its survivors.

What the NCRB Data Suggests

According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2022, there were 4,45, 256 cases of crime against women in that year — a rise of 4% compared to 4,28,278 in 2021. 

A maximum of 5,399 of a total of 31, 516 rape cases were registered in Rajasthan, followed by Uttar Pradesh (3,690), Madhya Pradesh (3,029) and Maharashtra (2,904).

Also Read-

'Ghar' moves away from the regular revenge drama and focuses on trauma faced by a rape survivor  and her family members.
Books on Dalits, Women Drawing High in Demand at Lucknow Book Fair
'Ghar' moves away from the regular revenge drama and focuses on trauma faced by a rape survivor  and her family members.
Broken Promises: Despite Election Commitments, Narmada River Continues to Suffer from Pollution in Madhya Pradesh

You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless
en.themooknayak.com