It was January 13, 2017. Thirteen-year-old Divya* was found hanging from the ceiling of her one-room makeshift house in Walayar, Palakkad district. And 52 days later, on the evening of March 4, her nine-year-old sister, Remya*, too, was found dead, in the same room, and shockingly, in a similar manner.
There were suspicions from the begining that the two sisters did not suicide, but the police had ruled out murder. Five people, including a juvenile, were arrested for rape and abetment of suicide. But two years later, all four men, who were either related to, or known to the family, were acquitted by a court in Palakkad.
The case has enraged the people of Kerala. How is it that two young girls – a 13-year-old and a 9-year-old – could kill themselves? And how come even after the older girl died, the investigators and our child protection systems could not do anything to at least save the younger girl? Even the police, just became mere spectators when the accused walked free due to lack of evidence.
The father and mother, both daily wage labourers, had given statement that they had seen V Madhu sexually assaulting her multiple times. According to the mother, the younger child had also told the police that just moments before she found her sister dead, she had seen two men walking out of their house, with faces covered.
Rape, death and injustice: How the Walayar sisters’ cases were botched up
Rape, death and injustice: How the Walayar sisters’ cases were botched up.Posted by TheNewsMinute on Tuesday, 5 November 2019
Even the forensic doctor who did the post mortem said repeatedly that the elder sister could have been sexually assaulted. And yet, the police didn’t manage to pursue the sexual assault angle sufficiently, or prove it.
Initially, the Walayar police had detained a few men in the locality for questioning, but no case was registered.
While botched up investigation and the acquittals have led the state to debate on the efficiency of the police force and political interference, one should not overlook the underlying issues. In this case – the culture of silence.
Way back in 2016, the parents knew that one of their daughters was being sexually assaulted, but since the accused were family members, they kept it within the family and only warned the men.