The Mysuru police arrested one of the 5 accused men on Tuesday. The men manipulated the teen girls so that they didn't even realise they were being abused.

Siblings with mental illness sexually abused by multiple men in Mysuru for a yearImage for representation
news Child sexual abuse Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 17:08

On June 26, Odanadi Seva Samsthe, a Mysuru-based anti-trafficking NGO, was approached by a woman, Shahana*. The mother of four had a horrifying story to tell – three of her teenage daughters had allegedly been sexually abused and exploited for a period of two years by multiple men. 

The Mysuru police registered a case against five men, and arrested one, Affan, from Mangaluru on Tuesday. They are in the process of locating and apprehending the other four accused. 

The abuse

Shahana works as a tailor while her husband works as a plastic dealer. Most of her earnings go into getting treatment for her three daughters Afzah* (15), Alisha* (17) and Farah* (18) respectively. Her fourth daughter is married and lives with her husband. 

The siblings have been undergoing counselling as well as treatment at NIMHANS in Bengaluru. While the youngest and the oldest have mixed emotional and conduct disorder, the 17-year-old has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.   

“Since the girls are emotionally and mentally vulnerable and come from a poor family, they are unprotected. These men were on a lookout for such vulnerable girls. Since the mother and father go out to work in the day, the girls are alone. That’s how the main accused started luring the girls,” reveals Stanly KV, the founder director of Odanadi. 

He refrains from naming the accused - four of whom are still absconding - so that they are not alerted about the police investigation. 

About two years ago, the main accused lured all three girls away from home. He took them to another place and allegedly sexually assaulted them. This soon became a routine and the accused began to bring more men to sexually assault the girls, the complaint states. 

The accused managed to manipulate the girls into lying to their mother that they were going to their relatives’ place and would stay there for a couple of days when in reality they were going with the accused. Sahana noticed a trend but did not suspect anything.  

It all came to light towards the end of June. According to Shahana’s complaint, her daughters told her on June 17 that they were going to their friend’s place. However, they did not return for a couple of days. When Alisha returned on June 21, she told her mother that they had lied to her. 

“We did not go to our friend’s house. We had gone to meet one of our acquaintance (the main accused). He went with him and his friend Affan. They took us to a lodge around 11.30 am and booked two rooms there. They told me I was fat and that they didn’t want me. Then they took Afzah and Farah into the room and sexually assaulted them,” Alisha allegedly told Shahana. 

Afzah and Farah, meanwhile, came back home on June 25. “I asked them where they had gone, but they refused to tell me,” Shahana writes in the complaint. “Then I told them that Alisha had told me everything and they should tell me the truth.” 

The girls finally confided in their mother.  

Afzah revealed that after Alisha left, the main accused gave them Rs 1,000 to go home and then he and his friends left the lodge.  

On the way back home, they met another “acquaintance,” possibly one of the men who also abused the girls. 

“We told him we didn’t have a place to stay. So, he and another man took us to a lodge in Srirangapatna (in Mandya) and made us stay in a room. In that room, when Farah was asleep, the second man sexually assaulted me,” Afzah told her mother. 

On June 23, the duo left the lodge but did not return home. They boarded a train to Bengaluru and returned home in Mysuru’s Rajeev Nagara area when they ran out of the money that the main accused had given them. 

“I did not file the complaint earlier because of stigma and because I thought my daughters’ lives will be ruined,” Shahana wrote in the complaint.   

The girls did not realise they were being manipulated and abused 

Stanly explains that because of the way the accused had groomed them, Afzah, Alisha and Farah did not even realise that they were being sexually abused. “The girls were manipulated, and because of their mental health, did not realise that they were being sexually abused,” he adds. 

He also blames the community and the stigma around mental health which rendered the girls vulnerable.  

“A few of the accused are from the community itself. And it is not as if the neighbours did not see the girls. But because of a victim-blaming attitude and the stigma around the mental health of the girls, they did not say anything. They thought that there was a fault with the girls’ conduct only,” Stanly states. 

He shares that while Shahana is devastated to learn what was happening with her daughters, she is determined to get justice for them.  

“She is under a lot of stress and has been receiving threats for lodging a complaint against the accused men from the community. But she is very honest and determined,” Stanly says. 

(*names changed) 

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