'Those days still give me nightmares,' Vithura girl, now 42, recalls her trauma

Sexual assault
Illustration: Manorama

The victim of the infamous Vithura sex racket that shamed Kerala in the mid-1990s has rebuild her life with ample support from well-wishers and a doting husband. She has recounted the events leading up to her ordeal and how she found the strength to survive. She heaved a sigh of relief as the court here sentenced the man who had sold her for flesh trade when she was eager to land a job.

"My family members and the people of my native place supported me well," she said.

"They did not hurt me even with a look. They backed me in all matters. That's how I found the strength to survive. A person, who was fully aware of my past, came into my life. He has been my pillar of support since," the woman, now 42, said, on piecing together life after the tragedy a quarter century ago.

"My husband prompted me to go ahead with the case after the arrest of the main accused Suresh. I am leading a happy life now. I shudder at the mere thought of those days,” she said.

The girl, from Vithura near Thiruvananthapuram, was raped by several men during 1995-96 after she was pushed into flesh trade.

Recounting the events from 1995, the woman, who was a minor girl then, said, “During those days, even transport facilities were poor in my native place. I had not seen the world outside my house. I knew Ajitha Beegam, a distant relative, and used to visit her house at times. My father was an alcoholic. I really wanted to get a job. Ajitha told me that she would arrange a job for me as a house help.

“I went to Ajitha's house one day after a death in her family. After some time, my brother came looking for me. But Ajitha told him that I was not at her home. She hid me under the cot. Also, gave me something to drink. When I came to my senses next, I realised that Ajitha was forcefully trying to take me in the car. I did not have the energy or health to get out of the car and run. Accused Suresh was also in the car,” she recounted.

The woman further said that she was found by the police after nine months. “I named all the people who abused me. Though I named senior police officers, the cops, who recorded the statements, behaved amiably with me. The then Commissioner T P Senkumar was very caring. I cannot forget advocate Subhalakshmi and SI Lakshmikutty either,” she added.

A lesson to the society: Prosecution

Special Public prosecutor Rajagopal Padippura contended in court that the sentence awarded to the first accused in the Vithura case should be a lesson for the society.

"The accused does not deserve any mercy. He had gone into hiding twice. He had forced a helpless girl into sex trade. Therefore, maximum punishment must be given,” the prosecution said in court.

The first accused, 52-year-old Kollam native Suresh (alias Shamsudheen Muhammed Shajahan), was sentenced to 24 years of rigorous imprisonment and slapped with a fine of Rs 1.09 lakh by a court in Kottayam on Friday.

As the verdict says the sentences will run concurrently, the convict will have to serve only 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. If the fine is not paid, then an additional 8 months will have to be served.

Special court judge Johnson John pronounced the verdict on Friday. The accused was found to be guilty on Thursday.


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