'Cannot remain passive': Voices of protest over Walayar sisters' death

'Cannot remain passive': Voices of protest over Walayar sister's death
Lekshmi Priya, Manasi, Santhosh Keezhattoor and Thampi Antony.

Times are changing, they said. Women have been able to leave a mark in various spheres of life. Even then, certain men treat her just as a tool for sexual pleasure and someone to toil hard for the family. Isn't the shocking deaths of two minor girls within two months at Walayar in Kerala’s Palakkad district proof of this? What punishment should be accorded to culprits who killed the second child 52 days after the elder girl in 2017?

The hands of our law too failed to punish them and the accused were let off last week.

Protests have been ebbing in the state. A section of the society has been crestfallen to see that the girls have been denied justice over and over again. The fact that the culprits are able to roam free, owing to lack of evidence, creates a sense of fear and apprehension, especially among women.

Several people are protesting the injustice in the Walayar case. Some posted about their reservations on social media platforms, while the others took to the street.

'Cannot remain passive'

A protest by film-drama artist Santhosh Keezhattoor had garnered much attention. Santhosh had roamed the streets, dressed as a mother who was moaning her daughters.

"I am also a mother's son. There are several sisters around me. And they all have daughters too. Those kids are also my children. The Palakkad incident had happened earlier in Kashmir too. A younger child was attacked and killed by beasts. I could not even sleep then."

He said that he was even ashamed to look at his own mother.

"My mother was shocked to see people rallying in support of the assailants of the Kashmir child on television," he recounted, adding such incidents are happening in the country on a daily basis.

Pointing out the Nirbhaya gang-rape of 2012, the artist said that he had believed like the rest of the country that such heinous crimes would never be repeated. But each time, more horrifying news fill the newspapers, he pointed out.

"And those responsible for this are walking out in the open without a hint of shame or remorse," Santhosh Keezhattoor said.

He listed out the incidents of Soumya murder case, the Kashmir girl’s murder, a rape survivor battling for her life in Uttar Pradesh, and the Walayar girls’ death in nearby Palakkad. He also remarked about the case of Aruna Shanbaug, who had been in a comatose since 1973 till her death in 2015.

However, he exuded hope in the administration of the land. "I am sure that the Left government would punish the culprits, no matter who they are. That's my belief."

“As an artist presenting the one-actor play, Pennu nadan, across the country, I cannot remain passive over such incidents. I am sure all the good human beings, who saw the drama, would question injustice when they see it. That's my aim,” he concluded.

Which victim has got justice?

Malayalam actress Lakshmi Priya said that she was not surprised to see the court verdict that let the accused to walk scot free

"This is Kerala. Which victim of sexual abuse has got justice? Suryanelli? Vithura? Soumya? Jisha?"

Lakshmi Priya said she had seen the most heart-wrenching scene of Soumya's mother Sumathiamma breaking down.

"After that I have never tried to meet the mothers of abused girls. The advocate, who had frequently interacted with the victim in the Suryanelli case, had said that whenever the prominent politician's face appeared on TV or newspapers, she used to scream out. What more evidence do you need to prove that he had harassed her?" she asked.

The 16-year-old school girl was raped by several men for over 40 days in 1996. Though even several women took the high seat of authority, none could bring the politician to book, the actress pointed out.

Pointing at another heinous rape and murder of Jisha at Perumbavoor in 2016, Lakshmi Priya said even the doctor had claimed that he had never seen such a body that had been inflicted with so many grievous injuries.

The actress also questioned why the man, convicted of killing Soumya in 2011, was not given the death sentence?

She also pointed fingers at the juvenile convict in the horrifying Nirbhaya case, who had even pulled out the intestines of the victim using an iron rod.

Lakshmi Priya contented that there are several other women victims too. " Kiliroor, Kaviyoor, Paravoor, the list goes on...?"

Some of the deceased got back their names, while the others were referred to as victims along with their regions, she added.

The actress also wondered about the mental state of the official who said that the children, aged 9 and 13, were involved in consensual sex. "Isn't the age limit applicable to that also? When the heartbroken parents say that their children were abused, what more proof do you need?"

Referring to the unprecedented floods that ravaged Kerala in both 2018 and 2019, the actress said, "I think all this flood is happening due to inhuman cruelty meted out to women. God's own country would be washed away in the deluge triggered by the women's tears.”

'Know the real picture'

Social media activist Jolly, who studies current happenings and reacts on the issues, said that everything looks perfect from outside.

"People applaud the mighty words of the administration. But what happens to these words later on. You need to join the dots at certain junctures... to get to know the real picture."

"Two little girls died within two months. It was said that the nine-year-old hanged herself from a height of 8ft from the ground. That police report should be highlighted," she mocked.

'System has to change'

Writer-actor Thampi Antony said that both the victims and their families are being denied justice.

"It is our duty to ensure that the re-probe is done. The police can manipulate anything in our country. This system has to be changed.

"In America, even if two children, below the legal age, were engaged in consensual sex, it would be considered as rape. I am sure that this is the case anywhere in the world," Antony added.

Writer and activist Manasi P K recounted one of the horrifying tales from girls who had to endure abuse from their own dear and near ones.

"One of my friends, once told me that one of her paternal relatives had touched her inappropriately, under the guise of affectionate behaviour. Though she felt revolted at the elderly man's touch, she did not complain about this to her parents. However, her own younger sister made a similar complaint about the man to her and it was only then she realised her mistake," Manasi recounted.

The writer said that another of her friend, who fell prey to abuse, tortured her own body, in grief and shame.

“It’s not that these girls did not have parents nor were they ignored by them. The parents just did not realise the wrongful intention harboured by their own family members, and neighbours. The parents merely trusted them."

"Probably, the parents of the Walayar sisters too had placed their trust in those around them. And the children were probably lured away by chocolate or ice cream. They would have been suffocated to silence by the abuse meted out on themselves and their sibling. Their eyes would have betrayed nothing but helplessness,” she said.

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