Pollachi case: Stigma around sexual abuse plagues victims

An official, confirmed that the victim (Renuka Kumari) was abducted from the institute where she was doing graduation in the business administration. Representative purpose only.

After videos of sexual assault of multiple women taken by the four accused in the Pollachi case went viral online, other victims in the case are scared that there will be more leaks.

In a society where most sexual crimes go unreported because of a tendency to blame the victim, it is unsurprising that these women have become more cautious. The stigma surrounding sexual abuse tends to become the primary identity of a victim.

The Pollachi case took Tamil Nadu by surprise when a 19-year-old college girl went to the police in February saying that she was sexually assaulted and robbed. This led to any investigation that uncovered a set-up where men befriend women online, and molest, film and, later, blackmail them for money.

Scared to speak up

When The Federal reached out to the family of one of the victims, they were initially hesitant to talk about what they were going through. However, sometime later, the brother of the 18-year-old girl said that the family members came to know about the abuse only after the four — Thirunavukkarasu, Sathish, Sabarirajan and Vasanthakumar — were arrested.

“My sister joined college just a year ago and was the first graduate from our family. In the past few days, she has been crying all the time and does not step out of the house. She has stopped going to college too. She eventually told us that she was also threatened by the gang and is scared that a video that was shot by the accused would be leaked,” said the brother.

The angered family members want to see the accused punished, but not at the cost of revealing the girl’s identity. They are worried that the police may inadvertently name the girl, like they did with the first one who filed a complaint against the youth.

“We are more concerned about my sister’s life. She is depressed and our main motive is to keep her strong. We plan to file an official complaint, but only after discussing it with my sister and family members,” added the brother.

Other cases

The 18-year-old is not the only one who is embarrassed and scared after the video leak in connection with the Pollachi scandal. The first victim, a 19-year-old girl, was also embarrassed after videos of the sex scandal were leaked and circulated on social media websites, despite police warning against it.

“A video released by a local magazine says that the girl assaulted in the video was the one who filed the complaint against the youth. That is not true. The girl in the video is different from the complainant. The girl was strong enough to file a complaint, but hesitated to attend classes after the videos were leaked. However, with a good support system, she is back to her routine life,” said Gopalakrishnan, lawyer of the 19-year-old girl.