Teen Dies by Suicide. Then His Family Is Arrested for the Gang Rape of a Woman in Delhi.

Twelve members of the dead teenager’s family have been arrested so far.

In a harrowing video, a young woman in pink clothes can be seen with her face tarred, her head shaved and a garland of slippers around her neck. She is pleading and crying, while a jeering crowd of women and girls surrounds her in a congested residential street in India’s capital city New Delhi. Some in the crowd begin to hit her on the head as observers watch and cheer. No one stops them.

Another video shows the woman’s hair getting chopped in a room while she’s beaten by men with sticks and a leather belt. Women egg them on.

Both videos were recorded on Jan. 26 on India’s Republic Day. The 20-year-old survivor’s identity has been withheld by police, but they say she was abducted, tortured and gang raped by the family of a teenager who died by suicide on Nov. 12. 

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According to police, the family blamed the survivor for their teenage son Ayush Nahariya’s death after she rejected his advances and took revenge. In South Asia, gang rape has been weaponized as a form of revenge to dishonour and humiliate women and their families.

“My sister got married in 2018. Ayush fell in love with her. He used to keep calling and asking her to leave her husband and be with him. She would always refuse. They blamed my sister for Ayush’s death and started taking out their anger against us,” the survivor’s sister, Jaspreet, told local press

Jaspreet’s identity has been changed under police request. She, the survivor and the rest of her family are currently under police protection. 

On the day of the incident, Jaspreet was headed to her sister’s house. She didn’t realise that she was being followed by four men from Nahariya’s family. As her sister emerged from her house, they grabbed her, forced her into a car and sped away. Jaspreet managed to grab her sister’s two-year-old child and rushed into her house.

In the survivor’s police complaint, she alleges that she was beaten and sexually assaulted by men in Nahariya’s family while female members watched and encouraged them. Afterwards, she was dragged and paraded in the street. Neighbours did not intervene, with police arriving 15 minutes after Jaspreet dialled for help. 

Suicide, Revenge, Gang Rape, Woman, Paraded, Delhi, India

The case has provoked public outrage in India where cases of sexual violence against women are pervasive. According to the most recently available government data, more than 32,000 cases of rape occured in the country in 2019. In the past, sexual violence has been meted out to women who have rejected their offenders advances. It has also been used as punishment against women and their families in cases of elopement. 

In July of last year, a teenager was repeatedly gang raped by the members of a woman’s family who had eloped with the victim’s brother. A similar incident took place in 2015, when two Dalit sisters were raped when their brother married a woman from an upper caste. 

“This is a very prominent tactic that is used, it's a tool or weapon that is used against a woman and her family. A case of rape or gang rape is always a case of an uncontrollable desire for power, and in this case the power was located in the idea of revenge,” journalist Nidhi Suresh told VICE World News. 

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“The idea is that honour and dignity are located on a woman’s body. By violating and dehumanising her is one of the ways to establish the power of a man and in this case, it was actually to establish the power of a dead man.”

According to reports by neighbours and the survivor’s family, Nahariya’s family run a bootleg alcohol business and are feared in the neighbourhood. 

“These people say that they aren’t scared of policemen. They sell liquor and that’s how they run their house. I am in danger. They give me death threats. I stay in fear and don’t step out of my house,” Jaspreet said in her complaint.

So far, 12 members of Nahariya’s family have been arrested, including eight women, three minors and one man. The family’s house has been sealed. 

According to Jaspreet, after Nahariya’s death, she and her sister both received rape threats from the men in his family. She alleges that they burnt down her father’s rickshaw on Jan. 19, while female members of the family physically assaulted her aunt. 

Jaspreet asked for help from the police then, but she says that it never came. 

“I have called the police two to three times when this happened. I went to the Vivek Vihar station and filed a complaint also once. Once the police came and warned the men but nothing happened. I never thought they would do this to us,” she added. 

On Saturday, police filed an additional police complaint on behalf of Jaspreet against three male members of Nahariya’s family on charges of sexual harrassment, physical assault, criminal intimidation.

On Jan. 31 police also registered cases against two people who spread misinformation claiming that the survivor had ended her life. A third case was filed against the creator of a YouTube video which shared the survivor’s identity. The survivor is currently in a safehouse under the protection of the police. 

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone now or text START to 741741 to message with the Crisis Text Line.

Follow Rimal Farrukh on Twitter.

Tagged:

rape, India, assault, south asia, new delhi, worldnews

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