Nonadanga, Kolkata – Report of sexual assault on a minor

June 20, 2013

In Nonadanga area 6 year old ‘Swapno’ (a name given, only to avoid calling ‘rape survivor’ all the time) was raped by his private tutor at around 10:30 am. Yes, you read it right, Swapno is a boy. The tutor had sexually assaulted the child before this incident as well, had tried to show pornography to the child and threatened him with a knife so that he didn’t tell anyone.

By the side of Bypass, behind highrise of Ruby-Fortis-Desun hospitals, a few lakh people live in the area called Nonadanga. People evicted from various places got rehabilitation in this locality in narrow, cramped-up 160 sq. ft. ‘flats’. Shanties have spawned in this area as well. Most of the men here are mostly employed in factories of various sizes; some are sweepers, construction workers, rickshaw pullers, van drivers, auto drivers, security guards. Most of the women work as domestic help and aya, or in bag or shoe factories. The existence of Nonadanga was ‘noticed by the city’ when last year, after an eviction attempt on ‘Mazdoor Pally’ and ‘Shromik Colony’ of Nonadanga by the government, the slum dwellers started an anti-eviction movement. The batons of the police, frequent arrests, jail terms– all these failed to break the resistance and the slum dwellers are still living where they used to. Swapno lives near this site. He went for tuitions to a place about 10 minutes walking distance from his home. His tutor was a 28 year old man who has been arrested by the police and is scheduled to be produced in the court today.

When Swapno didn’t come back with his batchmates, his mother went to fetch him. Seeing that he could not walk well, the mother asked what happened. Swapno did not tell anyone out of fear of the tutor, he said it was a boil and was weeping. Then the mother saw blood dripping down the child’s legs. Then everything was revealed and the people from the locality took the cops to the tutor’s house where he was caught.

When we went to talk to the locals, the reactions were varied. The child’s closest neighbors were very worried about the matter, they wanted to teach the tutor a lesson. But a stone’s throw away people did not know what exactly happened. We also heard remarks like “huh, what’s a rape of a boy?” “It’s a boy-boy thing, nothing to get worried about.” In the morning apart from Khas Khabar, no media came to cover the incident. In West Bengal right now saying that a rape happened amounts to an anti-state-government statement which the slum dwellers understand quite well, and with all the problems of their everyday lives, they usually do not want to get into trouble with the government and the powerful political parties.

Swapno is a student of Heritage School (this private school has a few seats reserved for poor students) near Nonadanga. After the incident Swapno was admitted in Chittaranjan Medical College. Last night after seeing Swapno it seemed that he had somewhat recovered from the initial trauma, he was saying he would go to school the next day, though he would probably have to stay in the hospital for a while. Don’t know what the moral police are going to say on this – the tutor was born evil? The boy wore little clothes? He provoked the tutor? Or will they be relieved and say – “thank god, it would have been a ‘big loss’ if it were to a girl” !!!

Sexual assault on males is nothing new and male children are frequent targets of it. In police custody, at the hands of the army, incidents of sexual assault on males of various ages are abound from Kashmir to Manipur. Demands have been raised in our country that the rape law be amended to include cases of sexual assault irrespective of the gender of the victim.

Swapno’s parents are hoping that the police will ensure that the tutor gets punished. They do not want the incident to be publicized as well because they are worried about the child’s future. Their fear is not unfounded. When the sympathy that is strong after the incident subsides, won’t it give way to taunts from peers? Won’t he be a topic of insensitive speculation among the people around him? After all, sexual assault, its pain and fear aren’t what a ‘man’ is supposed to get. Would he be spared for experiencing the horror that the society has earmarked for – women?

[A report by Gargi Sengupta, Parag, Priyasmita, Sutanaya]