‘Bitiya’ was 13 when four men raped her, in 2012. They also made a video of the act and sold it in the local video store. But neither her young age, nor the lack of money and support, stopped Bitiya from taking on the the entire village and all the systems to fight for justice. This is her incredible story.
She was just 13 when four upper-caste men raped her in 2012. They filmed the act and threatened to leak the video and also kill her brother if she told anyone about it.
Fearing for her brother’s life, she kept quiet. But this was just the beginning of her long and arduous journey. Six week’s later, her father chanced upon a 15-year-old boy watching a pornographic film that featured his daughter. The men were selling the video in a local video store for some money.
When her father saw his daughter crying in the video and four men forcing themselves upon her, he was shocked.
Photo for representation only. Source: www.nirbhayajyoti.com
He went to the police station to file a report. But the police seemed uninterested in following up on the case.
In fact, village elders too did not support the young girl. They barred her from school saying she was “the wrong kind of girl and would affect other girls too”. But, unlike many girls who stay indoors and cut themselves off from the world as victims, this girl took the culprits head on and has been fighting for justice ever since.
Since Indian law does not permit the naming of rape victims, she prefers being called ‘Bitiya’. After winning support from a few villagers, she managed to rejoin her school. She is not just another ‘victim’ but a portrait of a courageous teenager who is willing to fight against all odds and not let others tell her that she is to blame for what happened to her.
After some investigation took place, the four accused were sent to jail but were later released on bail. The case has been dragging since then and Bitiya’s family, especially her brother whom they threatened to kill, live in terror. He can’t go out of the house, take up a job or lead a normal life due to the death threats. Bitiya’s father too could not take the pain of the court hearings and died of a heart attack.
In spite of facing challenges at every step, Bitiya refused to give up. She continued attending the court hearings and bravely spoke out against the wrong done to her.
She was even offered Rs. 9,72,000 – an amount she had never seen in her life, to drop the case. But being on a mission, Bitiya refused the money saying that she would not even accept double the amount and will only rest once she sees the culprits behind bars.
While Bitiya continues to fight for justice, the suspects have had to sell some land to arrange the money for bail. This has made everyone in the village realise that rape can lead to consequences and people cannot easily get away with it anymore.
Bitiya’s efforts now seem to be showing results. Many rape cases have occurred in the village but none are believed to have occurred since Bitiya raised her voice. All it takes is one voice.