SRINAGAR: In a shocking incident, first a mentally-challenged woman who was allegedly gang raped by two men near the Makhdoom Sahib shrine in Srinagar, now delivered a stillborn baby on November 20 with no help around has no proper shelter home.
The incident came to light after a member of Srinagar-based women help group Kashmir Women’s Collective (KWC), Mantasha Binti Rashid has put up a social media post of how the abandon woman was forced pull out her foetus in pain at a construction building.
In a heart-rending post, Mantasha wrote on her facebook, “The face of the mentally challenged woman who delivered a child in open on a roadside in this weather on Nov 20 and pulled out her foetus in pain isn’t letting me sleep in this cosy bed”.
Mantasha said that the fact that she was raped by two young men in graveyard in Rainawari when she was coming down from the Makhdoom Sahab shrine.
“The pain, trauma and the unstitched cuts on her body are not letting me complain of my backache. She’s mentally challenged and many like me are wasting away their mental faculties. Her family is distancing from her because she’s mentally challenged and now raped, and I am upset because my family sometimes seems to bother much about me”, she added.
She further added, “I admitted her there in the hospital for the night, she is scared of needles, she cries if doctor tries to examine her. I am waiting for this night to pass such that I can go back to the hospital in the morning. A rape victim is re-victimised by the family, society and other institutions. I sometimes wish I could do more, other times I just wish that I didn’t exist”.
No FIR had been lodged so far.
The victim woman’s baby is dead and her family and relatives continues to distance themselves from her fearing social stigma. The victim has nowhere to go, no one to take care once she is discharged from the hospital.
KWC reported the incident to One Stop Centre (OSC) for women, run by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development. In response to Rashid’s post, Sameena Mir, the state coordinator at state Resource Centre for Women, Department of Social Welfare, said the case has come to their notice and that they will assist in the required health and institutional care of the woman and her child.
According to Rashid, in absence of proper shelter homes, it is very difficult for survivors to get support. “We must advocate for at least one professionally-run shelter home for women. We are trying but to no avail yet,” she said.
As of now, the members of Kashmir Women’s Collective (KWC), One Stop Centre for Women (OSC) are taking care of her in the hospital. They said that she belong to a broken family, with her “drunkard father”, step-mother and indifferent siblings.
The victim has been subjected to lot of pain life, according to the activists. “She told me that her father had once tried to poison her. He never had tried to locate her while she was gone,” says Mantasha adding that the family had asked her to live in a cattle shed near their home.
The victim is suffering from behavioural issues, speech issues but not completely mentally unstable. She was abandoned, had taken shelter at a shrine in Srinagar. Due to the rejection and neglect of her family she used to roam on roads.
According to the information gathered by the activists she would often sit on stairs of Makhdoom Sahab shrine. “Young boys would come to tease her. When two among the boys had gotten to know that she is alone despite having a family, they raped her somewhere while she was coming back from the Shrine, near Malkhah.
The victim have told KWC, She won’t be able to recognise the boys as it was dark. KWC said that the traumatised woman knows she was raped and her baby boy died.
According to KWC soon the pregnancy symptoms had developed after the alleged gang rape, no one had come to check on her and no reports were filed in the police station. And now when she was in acute labour pain, no one helped her till a man had taken her to an under construction house in Kangan, given her a Kangri (firepot) and a blanket.
She delivered the baby in a standing position, all by herself, and fell unconscious. “She was drenched in her blood by morning. When the villagers had seen her, they made a hue and cry,” says Mantasha.
Among the villagers, Rashid Wangnoo along with his wife had helped her wash off, took care of her and took her to to the Public Health Center. “In the PHC, Dr Bahar was uncooperative,” says Mantasha. Meanwhile, stray dogs had reached the baby.
“We got in touch with Rashid Wangnoo and took her to the hospital. We called her family and they does not really seem to be concerned.We are trying to make new arrangements for her” says Mantasha.
In this concern on 26 November, Mantasha again turn to social media ad wrote, “In need of a SAFE shelter for the victim-survivor I wrote about yesterday – SAFE, PROFESSIONAL AND LONG TERM shelter”.
“Unfortunately there’s no such place in this goddamn valley for rape survivors or even mentally challenged people. Can the concerned departments please take note and initiate or expedite the process ?”, she added.