Rape victim stories can be very difficult to read, frightening and emotionally draining, but they must be shared because they tell other victims that they are not alone in their struggle. Some stories act as a record of the abuse and also tell us about the will to survive, recover and regain control of life. The shared experience is a voice that impels you to come out on the other side as a whole person. The following shared experiences of abuse, sexual assault, incest and violence speak of the courage of the person who has shared it. This article intends you to understand that it could happen to anyone and implores you to raise awareness, join voices and take action when and where you can.
The fight against rape
16-year-old Maya (name changed) is from a poor family in Jajarkot who used to work as a farmer for her livelihood. During work, the landlord of the farm kept a keen eye on her, mostly a look that she had grown to fear. “I tried avoiding him all the time. If I had a choice I would leave the job since his eyes made me uncomfortable,” Maya recalls. She was studying in grade 10 in the government school then. One day, when her parents were out working on the farm, the landlord came to Maya’s house and locked the room. Maya was terrified. He approached Maya, physically harassing her and attempted to rape her. But Maya went to the window screaming for help and managed to drive him away. The next day, the landlord fled from the village for fear of getting caught. However, with the help of the police, Maya and her family had him caught and filed a case against him for attempted rape. “I thought this would bring an end to my sorrows,” she says.
Almost a week after the landlord’s arrest, Maya found her father’s dead body in front of their house with his legs and hands fractured and scars and injuries all over his body. Soon after, Maya also lost her aunt under suspicious circumstances. Maya realised that it was the landlord who had deployed criminals to kill her father and aunt to ruin her life as revenge for sending him to prison. They also put her brother in jail over a false robbery case. Devastated, Maya had to go through terrible losses at a very young age and her only fault was that she spoke out against violence and abuse. “It was impossible for me to live in the village with all these incidents. I was referred to Maiti Nepal for my safety and protection by the villagers,” she shares. Her mother and brother also shifted to another location. Today Maya is continuing her higher studies with the help of Maiti Nepal.
Women with disabilities are more vulnerable
Gulab (name changed), a 21-year-old, who hails from the hilly areas of central Nepal, is a differently-abled person; she cannot walk and needs external support. She lives with her parents and siblings. Their economic condition is bleak; her father is a farmer and her mother works as domestic help.
It was an unfortunate day for Gulab when her mother was travelling to another village to mourn the death of her cousin. On the same day, her father had to visit his sister’s home. Taking advantage of the situation and her disability, Kamal (name changed), a neighbour, forced himself inside Gulab’s house. “He covered my mouth and brutally raped me,” cries Gulab. After a night of terror, he threatened her with her life to not utter a single word. However, Gulab shared the incident with her trusted neighbour who informed everyone including her parents.
When her mother arrived, she confronted Kamal and made him admit to the offence. He was later handed over to the police and further investigation over the case is being conducted. Meanwhile, Gulab was sent to Maiti Nepal’s prevention home in Hetauda where she was provided with psychosocial counseling and health and rehabilitation facilities. Today, she is reintegrated with her family.
Unsafe at home
Samjhana (name changed) was pursuing her education in grade four in her village. When she was an infant, her mother passed away. She lived with her father and uncle. Samjhana, 14, was not only studying but did most of the household chores. Her uncle started physically abusing her and even raped her numerous times when her father was not around. “I could not share this with anyone because my uncle threatened to kill me if I ever spoke about it,” Samjhana shares. She was a victim of her uncle’s abuse almost every other day and finally decided to tell her father. “I was scared. But I had made up my mind to tell baba everything,” she discloses. “That was the bravest day of my life,” she adds. Her father was devastated and furious at his brother and took immediate action against him.
Following the incident, the case was reported to Maiti Nepal by the police. Samjhana is traumatised. She is reported to be four months pregnant. Her uncle is currently facing trial and Maiti Nepal is following up on her case, providing her with advocacy and counselling.
Ronisha (name changed) was married at the age of 14 to a 47-year-old man. She was persuaded by her parents to get married as her family was struggling financially. “Later, I found out that my husband paid my parents Rs 10,000. He literally bought me,” Ronisha recalls painfully, a victim of child marriage.
Ronisha wasn’t treated well by her husband or in-laws. She wasn’t given proper food and made to work hard. Time went by and she gave birth to a baby girl. She was further mistreated for delivering a girl child instead of a boy. Her husband didn’t spend much time with the family and when he came home, he would threaten and harass her. “I was mentally, physically, verbally and sexually abused,” she says with a heavy heart. When she realised she wasn’t safe any longer in the house, she left with her six-month-old child. A neighbour and the local government helped her to get support from the local police. She then filed legal action against her husband and in-laws.
Currently, she’s in the quarantine room in Maiti Nepal in Gaushala. The health condition of both mother and baby is good, and the legal officers of Maiti Nepal are following up on her case regularly.
Man rapes daughter, repeatedly
Juna (name changed) was seven years old when she was first raped by her father. This continued for another three years. “I was beaten. He threatened to kill me if I spoke about the incident,” Juna recalls. The menace scared Juna so much that she never mentioned it to anybody. She struggled through the pain all by herself. Soon her mother suspected that something was not normal and on interrogating her daughter, she came to know of her husband’s horrendous acts. A case was filed against the father and now he is facing legal repercussions for his actions.
Honey trap, promise of marriage
He promised to marry me and I was blinded by his words. He took me to his house and later, left me in the middle of the street. I knew of my pregnancy when my belly started swelling. He refused to acknowledge that he was responsible and instead blamed me. I was 17 then, and my world turned upside down. This was not to be the worst thing to happen to me. A close relative who is of my father’s age raped me. It devastated me and my mother. She wanted to attempt suicide and told me to join her. I denied taking my life. I told my mother about a safe house (women’s shelter) in Kanchanpur and left the village. With the help of the organisation, I was able to file a case against the two men who destroyed my life. One is behind bars but the other was released on bail.
I stayed at the shelter for two years fighting my inner demons. I was unable to speak, my will to live was taken away from me and there was no joy left inside. I had forgotten to laugh or smile. For years, I couldn’t stand next to any man or look a man straight into their eyes; I was terrified of men.
In a few months, I was holding a baby. Becoming a mother came with the realisation of responsibilities. I started working for Rs 3,000 a month as a dishwasher.
Everyone says that I am very gullible and others can easily take advantage of me. Who do I blame, them or me? The shelter helped me through my worst time including coming to the capital. I decided to hand over my nine-month-old baby to the organisation as his future looked dark in my hands. That was probably the best decision of my life. My suffering and pain have made me stronger. I now live in Kathmandu. I like it here; the weather’s is good and the people are nice. I take care of babies who have been abandoned by their parents and help with chores in the SAATHI organisation. Life has some purpose now.
Surya Kumari, 40
There was cursing, yelling, screaming, beating, and pleading for my life, I starved for seven days when he choked me, my back hurt with scars from his beatings, and my skin turned blue black with bruises. I blamed it on my Karma. It’s not the scars on my body that traumatize me even today, they will fade, it is the wounds that remain inside of me. He cheated on me with a migrant woman worker. They rented a room and he would visit her. I found this out through a friend of his. I was totally ignorant of his extra marital affair. When I caught him red handed, my eyes couldn’t believe it. That woman stood right beside him while my hands shook and I turned speechless with despair. That day, I went back home bawling. I loved him dearly despite everything and in return, all he ever gave me was suffering. An irresponsible father, husband and human, he abandoned not only me but his child from his dead first wife. The baby was innocent. I took her in my arms unsure about my abilities to raise her well.
I was married at 16. We were never rich but I was content. We at least had a home to call our own and a piece of land to grow food. After his death, I shifted to the capital. Life here is not easy; however, I manage to survive by working in a Nepali paper-making factory. I made some loyal friends who are by my side through thick and thin. It has been four years since I left Okhaldhunga. I am not young anymore, the way I view love has changed, and I never intend to walk this path anymore.