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Years on, no escape from trauma
- Mizo duo raped in capital return home but not to normal life

New Delhi, Dec. 19: The paramedic raped in Delhi on Sunday is battling for life, while at least two other gangrape victims of the capital are still struggling to rebuild their shattered lives years after the trauma.

Two Mizo girls, denied timely psychological counselling after being raped in Delhi and thereafter shunned by their communities, continue to display symptoms of severe emotional trauma, according to women’s groups and retired security experts here.

Their plight, they say, illustrates how India’s law-enforcement authorities as well as society are yet to learn how to help victims cope with the aftermath of rape.

“In most cases, rape victims are not given proper counselling and the trauma persists throughout their lives. Both police and society simply forget about how to help such victims so that they are able to return to their daily lifestyle. Rehabilitation is very important and it takes a long time,” said Ved Marwah, former Delhi police commissioner.

According to a recent study by Israeli researchers, trauma, like rape, doesn’t age.

“A girl once raped, in her mind is being raped again and again every day. A small trigger can remind her of the event,” the study said.

Two Mizo girls, who were gangraped in moving vehicles in two separate incidents in 2005 and 2010 in Delhi, left the capital in horror after the trauma and are still under immense emotional and psychological shock.

“The condition of one of them is worse as she seems to have lost her mental balance after the incident. I have heard she still behaves abnormally at times and in a fit of rage bangs her head against the wall and keeps on inflicting injuries on her private parts,” said Alana, one of the founding members of the North East Support Centre & Helpline (NESCH) in Delhi.

In 2005, she was just 20 and studying in Delhi University when she was abducted and gangraped by four men inside a moving Santro for several hours in Dhaula Kuan, north Delhi. The perpetrators had stripped her before dumping her in an unconscious condition from the moving car.

The NESCH had staged several protests in Delhi after the incident and met senior officials of the Delhi police demanding immediate arrest of the accused.

“It is shocking to say that the Delhi police did not provide any counselling to her that could have helped her get over the pain and trauma. Things became more difficult for her when she went to Mizoram, where she was ostracised by her own community members,” said Alana.

Ajit Singh Katiyar, the driver of the car, was convicted in December 2009 but the police failed to arrest the other three accused — Danda, Jat and Tappe — who have been declared proclaimed offenders.

“Even after seven years of the incident she is still shattered. She speaks less and confines herself in a room. We could not bear her plight and last year we got her married to a local youth thinking that she would forget the past. At times she still behaves in a strange way,” said a relative from Mizoram over phone.

Likewise, another 30-year-old Mizo BPO employee, who was gangraped by four youths in Delhi in November 2010, was forced to leave her job in the capital following taunts from her colleagues and friends.

She returned to her hometown. However, her community shunned her and she faced alienation from her friends and relatives in Mizoram too, sources who counselled her in Delhi said.

“She appears to be a strong girl but is still under trauma. She becomes violent at times and cries a lot. We contacted a counsellor, who spoke to her for an hour and told us that she needed sustained counselling. But she does not stay in Delhi anymore,” said a Delhi police official who had taken her to court during the hearing of the case a few months ago.

Rajan Bhagat, Delhi police’s spokesperson, said they take the help of NGOs for counselling rape victims.

“But what can we do if they leave the city after the incident? As far as I remember, the two Mizo girls were provided counselling initially,” he said.

The police are still not sure about the outcome of the case if she fails to turn up at the court during the trial, which will begin soon.

The police had arrested the four accused after drawing a lot of flak.

The victim, who worked with a Gurgaon BPO, had arrived in Delhi five years ago. On November 23 night in 2010, four men dragged her into their mini-truck and took turns in raping her before throwing her out two hours later.

Madhu Chandra, who runs an NGO in Mizoram, said, “It’s very sad that the police do not offer timely and proper counselling to rape victims. To make matter worse, victims are ostracised and our society does not come forward to help rehabilitate them.”

Counsellors and psychologists in the capital said the trauma of being raped is distinct from all other psycho-traumas.

“Rape victims need more long-term care and sustained counselling is extremely important as they have more problems returning to their daily functioning,” said Raman Verma, a psychologist.

He pointed out that the recent Israeli study by researchers found that when compared with the trauma of war, a serious car accident, prolonged illness and death of a loved one, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is most difficult to handle with victims of rape.

Rape victims, they advise, should be monitored carefully by doctors and healthcare providers.