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Her Education Stopped Because Of The Fear Of What Her Stalker Might Do…

Money can’t erase the young woman's trauma of her devastating experience from her mind. Money can’t return her freedom to get an education which she shouldn't have had to forfeit. 

Money can’t erase the young woman’s trauma of her devastating experience from her mind. Money can’t return her freedom to get an education which she shouldn’t have had to forfeit.

In a recent ruling, the Gujarat High court ordered the Gujarat govt to pay Rs 1.5 lakhs as ‘compensation’ to a 17-year-old girl who had left school due to stalking. What I wonder, though, is whether that amount will enable her to pick up again and finish the education she left between?

The minor girl of 17 was in class 12th when she had to quit her schooling due to heavy stalking by a 24-year-old jerk; there’s no other word for him. The guy was asking for sexual favors and followed her daily.

When the incident came to the notice of her parents, they filed a complaint and signed a plea in Gujarat High court. Now, the court has come to the conclusion that the abuser is to be sentenced to 3-year imprisonment and the girl will be compensated Rs 1.5 lakh for her mental trauma.

However, what real difference will this make?

I appreciate the fact that the High Court considered the girl’s mental trauma and tried to help her regain her lost dreams. But, can she get back her education with 1.5 lakhs? She had every right to feel safe. She had every right to pursue education further. She had the right to go to school and not to drop out at all. But she did. Reasons could be several, but what can be possibly concluded are:

  • The trauma might make it impossible for her to leave her home now. She might be unable to trust any man if she steps out, so instead of fighting with herself, it may be her decision to quit education.
  • Or, she might be under parental pressure to stay indoors due to the ‘unsafe conditions’ outside. There may be a fear in their hearts – what if their daughter encounters it again?
  • Or, a sexist society may have blamed the parents for “letting their daughter” have the right and freedom to get an education. In order to escape such society-shaming, parents ultimately force their daughters to drop out of school.

The reasons could be many, but what is important here is that a man’s abusive actions have had the power to cage a girl in her own house.

What would be favorable?

It is impossible for me to feel the hardship that the girl might go through since I have the privilege of studying until my heart desires. However, the thought that she does not have the same privilege makes me feel grieved for her.

Parents might be financially stable, and that’s why she was possibly even studying in class 12th. So I really don’t think such a compensation was really a good option. What would a survivor like this do with Rs 1.5 lakhs? Money can’t erase the young woman’s trauma of her devastating experience from her mind. Money can’t return her freedom to get an education which she shouldn’t have had to forfeit. What is done, is done.

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A government, and our courts need to put themselves in the shoes of countless such survivors of entitled harassment and abuse, and understand how such things may be prevented from happening. Someone could say that this is not “as bad as it could have been”, but seriously, should we be waiting for those horrors to happen? Isn’t it an elected government’s responsibility to see that the people feel safe and can live as they have a right to do, in a democracy such as ours?

I wonder. The message delivered by the Gujarat High Court (and the law, by extension) is that money can buy her suffering. Due to the abuser’s acts, a girl has been denied a basic right, and this cannot be denied by the court.

Image source: a still from Ranjhana

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About the Author

Bhumika Agarwal

Bhumika is an English Majors undergraduate at the University Of Delhi and at this moment actively working with an NGO, as a content department associate that works for normalizing menstruation and promotes menstrual hygiene. She read more...

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