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Odisha Cops Allegedly Rape 13y.o. Tribal Girl: When Will We Take Police Brutality Seriously?

Posted: July 2, 2020
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Police brutality shows up again as minor tribal girl was allegedly raped by policemen and forcefully made to abort her child in Odisha. No country for women?

*Trigger Alert

A 13-year-old minor girl in Odisha was raped in the disguise of helping her to reach back home.

According to a report published in NDTV, the survivor had gone to visit a fair at Maoist-affected area of Biramitrapur in Sundargarh district on March 25. Due to the lockdown, the fair was cancelled.

A police patrol team found her roaming near a bus stand and took her to the police station. Where allegedly she was raped by the station inspector. After this, she was dropped back to her house. But the brutality didn’t stop here. The minor has alleged that she was repeatedly called in the police station and raped again and again by some policemen.

After successive sexual assaults, the girl got pregnant and the inspector then forced her to terminate the pregnancy at a clinic. In this, the stepfather of the girl cooperated with the Inspector.

This issue came into light when the girl, who was seen crying outside the police station last week, was rescued by a local NGO and handed over to the district child protection officer. Who complained to the Raiboga police station.

What happened afterwards?

After the incident came into light, the inspector was suspended with immediate effect and then arrested from a forest in Angul district by a special CID team.

As many as six persons — the IIC, another police personnel, the doctor who conducted the abortion at a community health centre, the stepfather of the girl and two others — have been named in the FIR.

As reported by NDTV the Odisha police have issued an apology.  “His conduct was shameful. Our apologies to the young girl,” the DGP tweeted.

A gruesome tragedy that should have been national news by now, is sadly only reported by a few media houses. Why you may ask?  Because firstly how can police who are meant to protect us do something wrong ? And secondly it’s just a poor tribal girl from Odisha who cares?

Police brutality In India

Police brutality is not a new concept in our country. People with low authority have been victims of police brutality for years.

In 2019 alone, a total number of 1,731 custodial deaths took place. This means 5 death per day. Security forces in Kashmir and the North-East AFSPA-enforced areas have been sexually assaulting women for years. Armies all around the world do that. Rape is the most common weapon used to suppress someone. From the very first recorded custodial rape of a tribal woman Mathura, to recent examples of Jayaraj and Bennix in Tamil Nadu and the minor girl in Odisha prove that police brutality is a reality of our country.

One important thing to notice here is that the victims of police brutality are often people with less power either financially or socially. Sexual abuse and brutality is a way to establish fear and power. An institution like police which strives on power uses brutality as a way to show dominance.

Also, the very fact that police as a profession is considered as the ‘saviours’ which often at times gives them the feeling that no one can do anything to them like they told the magistrate in the Jayaraj and Bennix case.

What to do if saviours turn assaulters?

We all know getting someone punished for rape in our country is sadly a very difficult process. So on top of that getting a custodial rape reported is more difficult. This is the very reason which prevents women to go to the police station and report any kind of injustice. There is a fear that what if they get assaulted.

Also because the police themselves are the perpetrators in custodial rapes, it becomes very easy to tamper evidence, and threaten the victim. Action is taken in some cases, but a process needs to be put in place to deal with these cases to prevent misuse of power and make our system inclusive, safe and conducive to even the most vulnerable individuals.

Priorities of mainstream media

These cases somehow never make it to the mainstream media. Like the Jayaraj and Bennix case which came into the spotlight only because of the power of social media  Firstly no one wants to talk about men getting raped, and secondly police are the protectors not the criminals right?

The Kathua rape case too came into the spotlight because of the communal angle. No matter how harsh it sounds, it is the reality of our country that some rapes matter and others just don’t.

Image source: a still from the film Ek Hazarachi Note

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