What the Kathua rape victim’s letter to the Aligarh victim might have said

We were both killed mercilessly by men from across the religious divide. But, little one, what we suffered goes beyond all divides. Why don't those fighting for us understand this?

 |  4-minute read |   07-06-2019
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Dear little sister,

I am refraining from writing your name in this letter because the law of this country says the names of victims of sexual abuse must not come out in the open. They and their families must not suffer any more trauma at the hands of society than they have already undergone.

Yet, even before it became clear that you were not raped, they let out your name as a victim of rape.

In 2018, they did the same to me.

Just like you, little sister, they let out my name.

They used my photographs, just like they used yours. I am refraining from using your name because you, like me, have a right to rest in peace. Your family, like mine, must be allowed to remember you in peace.

We were subjected to extreme brutalities from men who did not belong to our religious communities.

I, a Muslim, was raped and killed, reportedly by Hindu men; you, a Hindu, have been mercilessly killed, allegedly by Muslim men.

If I had lived, today I'd be about five years older than you. The dead, of course, don’t age. For the dead, time freezes. From that frozen expanse of time, my little sister, I feel your pain.

Our lives taken away from us for no fault of ours — in fact, we were yet to reach the age where we could commit any faults.

I was still picking up new words when they raped and killed me; you were still melting hearts with your baby-like gibberish when they took your life.

child-690_060719013240.jpgI write this letter to you, little sister, because the world of mortals is too vitiated by their hate to see the truth. (Photo: Reuters)

One thing that pains me today is how, more than the atrocities meted out to us, it is who committed the atrocity that matters to those fighting in our name.

This fight over our perpetrators belittles the actual crimes done to us, fuzzes the debate on rape, confuses the discussion on child protection, obscures how crimes against kids should be reported, completely muddles how victims like us should be remembered.

When I was killed, calls were made about why a certain section of feminists were quiet. I didn’t know what 'feminists' meant. After your killing, similar calls are being made. I am sure even you do not know what 'feminist' or 'feminism' means.

That’s okay because I think a lot of these grown-ups fighting over us also do not know what the term means.

They say those who raised a voice for me were driven by ‘agenda’ — they say those silent on your killing are driven by ‘agenda’ too. They are empowered people for whom facts don’t count.

But, in truth, they belittle rape; they belittle your murder too because somehow, they want to belittle women and their causes. As you know, little sister, I wasn’t too old when I was killed. But my rape and killing made me realise I didn't matter because I was a girl. I was an object who could be ripped apart. So are countless women.

My rape forced me to grow up in no time.

Death might have stopped my age — but I grew up nevertheless. I am writing to you because I know the brutality you were subjected to has exposed you to the same growing up.

The truth is also this — men from all communities can be rapists. A Hindu rapist is no less or more brutal than a Muslim rapist. A man who kills a child is cruel, no matter which community he comes from.    

I write this to you, sweet sister, because the world of mortals is too vitiated by their own hate to care to see through this.

I write this to you, little sister, although at this age, I should have been chasing my sheep and you should have been chirping around.

I write to you so that you know I feel your pain — our religious divides notwithstanding.  

Love,

A victim from Kathua.

Also read: Kashmir's Silence Over Rape: Why is Kashmir so quiet over the horrific Bandipora incest-rape-suicide case?

Writer

Vandana Vandana @vandana5

Author is assistant editor DailyO.

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