AHMEDABAD: "Who will marry me, saheb?" the 19-year old had asked when the policeman met her outside the court to bid her farewell. The dalit girl had been raped by five villagers belonging to an upper caste community in Junagadh. After the accused were sentenced to prison, the police sub-inspector (PSI) had advised the girl to settle down with a nice man.
All over India, men in khaki are in news for their callous attitude towards rape victims- either they fight over jurisdiction as the victim lies unattended on the road, ask humiliating questions or question the character of the girl. However, a policeman in Gujarat had dared to marry a rape victim almost 30 years back, going against his family. This was when he realized that while he had ensured that her tormentors were behind bars, she would have never found social acceptance unless somebody married her.
The PSI, now a deputy superintendent of police, says that the girl's question had set him thinking. While the girl had got justice, it would still be difficult for her to move on in life carrying the stigma of a girl violated. He then decided that if he really meant well for the girl, he would marry her to give her that deserved dignity.
The PSI is now a deputy superintendent of police (DySP) and has one year left to retire. And as the nation grapples with the social fallouts of rape in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape case, he still believes in being the change he wants to see in the world.
"Our society needs to completely wipe out the stigma attached with a rape victim. She needs to be accepted back into the fold of the society in loving families. Only then can a rape victim really move on", says the DySP.
The DySP did not have it easy though. Thirty years ago, his parents belonging to a Kshatriya family had thrown a major fit when he told them he had decided to bring a dalit daughter-in-law who was also a rape victim. "We got married in a temple", says the DySP. The girl, now a housewife, says that her husband never made her feel that he had obliged her. In fact, the couple also told their history to their children-a son and a daughter- when they grew up.
"When rapes happen, people start advising. But I feel that one has to move a step forward and act. Talks do not result in social change, action does", he says.