Groom stands by raped bride
Bhopal, Feb. 23: A village wedding in Madhya Pradesh stood out for one reason on Tuesday: the groom had chosen to go ahead with the marriage after learning the bride had been raped two days earlier.
The groom, a Class XII dropout and farmer, told this newspaper that it was his duty to stand by the bride and fight her battle for justice together.
"It is a testing time for her for no fault of hers. I have married her and will fight for justice," Achchhe Lal said. The Telegraph is naming the groom with his consent.
Rape can bring pariah status on the victims and their families in backward Shivpuri district — which has a sex ratio of less than 900 — as it can in more developed areas.
The bride's family had been plunged in despair on Sunday night after a gang of robbers took away all the wedding jewellery and cash, and raped the bride and her sister at gunpoint before leaving.
The family members, who belong to the backward Lodhi caste, could not believe their eyes when Achchhe turned up at their home two days later at the head of a small wedding party.
Inspector Jitendra Nagaich, who is investigating the case but has not been able to arrest anyone yet, described the bride's reaction.
"She had been inconsolable after the incident. But when the groom arrived, she dressed up, prayed to God and thanked everyone from the groom's side," Nagaich said.
"The atmosphere in the entire village has changed dramatically since then," he added.
Social activist Sachin Jain, the state convener of the Right to Food Campaign who has travelled widely in the Chambal-Gwalior region, said the incident was path-breaking.
"That a Lodhi boy has shown the courage to marry a rape victim tells us that this agrarian society is looking to solve its own problems," he said.
Madhya Pradesh records more rapes than most states. In the Assembly yesterday, state minister Uma Shankar Gupta said that 3,381 women were raped in 2011. Of them, more than 300 were gang-raped.
The figure was 3,071 in 2009 and 3,220 in 2010. In January this year, 254 rapes were reported in the state, the minister said.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Madhya Pradesh accounted for 2,937 rapes in 2008, which was 13.7 per cent of the 21,467 rapes reported across the country that year.
Bengal and Uttar Pradesh followed with 2,263 and 1,871 cases, with Nagaland recording the fewest rapes, 19.
Most of the victims in Madhya Pradesh were from the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes.