Sulekha’s Story

Born in 1985 in a low caste family in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, Sulekha’s hardships began at an early age. As a child she was a silent witness to her father’s abuse and eventual murder of her mother. A month after her mother’s death, her father married his lover and accomplice in her mother’s murder.

Sent to live with her maternal grandparents in the village of Bhiwani, Haryana,  she felt relieved to have escaped her father and stepmother. However, when her elderly tutor began to molest Sulekha, it was evident that she had not yet escaped her suffering. She remained silent, though the abuse continued. Such molestation is simply a fact of life in many villages in India.

After school, with nowhere else to go, she returned to her father’s home. Isolated and desperate she asked her cousin Ashok Kumar to help her find a job. Kumar took her to meet who he told her was a official with government secretariat. She traveled with this man in an official vehicle to a local resort hotel, the Rajpur Resorts.

Once at the resort Sulekha was offered a drink of water that was laced with drugs. Drugged and helpless, she was taken into a room, thrown on a bed, stripped naked and raped. Although she was conscious the drug made it impossible for her to resist. Once the first rapist had finished three other men entered the room and proceeded to rape her. The first man filmed the 5 hour ordeal to use as later blackmail against her. The brutal attack left Sulekha bleeding, in pain and paralyzed by shock.

After the gang rape Sulekha was further raped by Ashok before she was taken home where fear of reprisals from her father and stepmother kept her silent. She was convinced that she would be evicted to live on the street if she revealed what had been done to her. Unable to leave her bed for a week due to severe infection, she was again alone and powerless. When Ashok revealed he was a pimp for many powerful politicians and businessmen Sulekha felt she had no choice but to work for him.

Sulekha saw her first ray of hope when she was enrolled in an management training program as cover for her to leave her father’s home at night. Samadhan NGO, which ran the training, also ran a helpline for women. For the first time Sulekha told her story and found both a voice and allies at Samadhan.

Advocate Singh, Samadhan’s director, counseled Sulekha and assisted her with filing a First Incident Report (FIR) with the police. The FIR was filed two months after the initial attack. Sulekha gave her official statement to the police, even though members of the ruling party and even members of the media attempted to physically prevent her from reaching the police station.

Despite mounting pressure from the ruling political party, members of the media and even the police, Sulekha pursued her case. She found a strength she never knew she had.

Now, three years later, her case is still working its way through the courts. Ashok and the first rapist, a state minister, have been caught and put on trial. The other three men, although identified from sketches Sulekha drew herself, remain at large.

Sulekha is training to become a lawyer and is working with other women and girls like her. Given her own voice, Sulekha is working hard to give voices to others. This is her story.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • RSS Women’s Rights News

    • ILO: New Treaty to Protect Workers from Violence, Harassment
      Expand The ILO Committee making up governments, employers, and workers, following the adoption of the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention and Recommendation 2019, ILO, Geneva.  © International Labour Organization (Geneva) – The adoption of a ground-breaking global treaty on June 21, 2019 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) will improve protecti […]
    • 'Every Year, I Give Birth': Why War is Driving a Contraception Crisis in Sudan
      Under a huge baobab tree in Sudan’s Nuba mountains, I met Sebila, a 27-year-old mother of three. In March last year, her village had been attacked by Sudanese ground troops and bombed by government war planes. The assault forced Sebila and many other villagers to flee deeper into rebel-held territory. She was just back in the village for the day with her chi […]
    • “Our Rights are Fundamental to Peace”
      Expand Sarah Jamal Ahmed, a 24-year-old sociologist who was one of the activists during the 2011 uprising in Sanaa, stands by posters of dead protesters posted in the streets. © 2012 Panos/Abbie Trayler-Smith The revolution made us proud to be there on the front line and men were forced to accept us. But now there are some who think it is time for women to g […]
    • Liesl Gerntholtz
      Liesl Gerntholtz is the executive director of the women's rights division. She is an expert on women's rights in Africa and has worked and written extensively on violence against women and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. Her work at Human Rights Watch has included documenting access to safe and legal abortion in Ireland and sexual and gender-based vio […]
    • Indonesia Begins to Roll Back Degrading Virginity Tests
      Indonesia said it will stop administering “virginity tests” to female aspiring civil servants as part of its admission process. The country’s Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo announced this change—which will affect women working in government offices—on the heels of Human Rights Watch research that documented this degrading practice in the admission proce […]