On the 28th of September, the body of a seven-year-old rape victim was found in a rubber estate in Kulathupuzha police station limits in Kannoor, Kerala. She had been abducted, raped and killed by a man known to her, Rajesh, who told her he was dropping her to her tuition class on Wednesday morning.
In a show of blind and reactive anger, residents have now chased away the victim’s parents and family from the village, saying that the rape and murder of the child were caused by the “immoral activities” taking place within the family. The accused, Rajesh, had been in a live-in relationship with the victim’s aunt, and the two were not married.
The family has been forced to flee to a relative’s house in another village, as the residents of their hometown have abused them and warned them not to return. The victim’ mother was not even allowed to view her child’s body during the funeral. The women’s commission offered the victim’s mother a job, and other residents have protested this move as well.
The family says that they have adequate police protection in their new residence, and also point out that if the police had been present during last week’s sequence of events, they would surely have been killed by other residents of the village.
We’ve spoken about the inanity and dangers of vigilante justice before, most recently when a Karnataka village decided to parade a man who allegedly molested a girl, through the village wearing a skirt. But this case from Kerala seems far more heart-wrenching: the victim’s family, of course, had no reason to believe that Rajesh would rape and murder their child, and the victim’s parents, who must be going through unimaginable pain at the loss of their child, are being put through an even more harrowing experience for no fault of their own: There’s really something just unspeakably cruel about disallowing grieving parents from attending their own child’s funeral.
It also shows you just how easy it is in the people’s minds to lay blame for crimes like rape anywhere but where the blame actually belongs. Obviously, the victim’s aunt being in a relationship with someone didn’t cause this crime, nor did the victim’s parents’ acceptance of that relationship. The only person to be blamed here is Rajesh, and nobody can stand in his place as a scapegoat for people’s anger.