Madurai: A sick society’s child. That is how one can describe the heartrending tale of Kannathal (name changed), a mentally-ill rape victim who gave birth to a boy 10 months ago. Not only does she fail to recognise the man who sexually assaulted her taking advantage of her unstable mind, but she also cannot recognise her child. While her case is pending in a trial court, she does not even know of its progress. Simply put she can’t even pursue it because she does not understand what a rape is. While she wanders in tatters, her alleged rapist is out on bail hoping that he can’t be jailed on the deposition of a mentally-ill woman.
Kannathal now lives in an apology of a house - a single room ramshackle amidst the ruins of what was once a tiled-roofed house in Cholanguruni Panchayat in rural Madurai. Her siblings have abandoned her. Kannathal’s last source of support and comfort is her septuagenarian mother Ponnammal (name changed), who is living on a meekly pension doled out to the aged and destitute and struggling to make ends meet.
The 30-something Kannathal was allegedly raped by a married man with two children, in whose farm her mother used to work as a daily wage earner. “Nobody even knew about the incident. The villagers started probing only when Kannathal was five months pregnant,” said a local resident requesting anonymity.
A sick society's child. That is how one can describe the heartrending tale of the mentally-ill rape victim.
Picking up leads from the bits and pieces of information given by the victim, the police had arrested the farm owner. The accused denied the charge citing that there was no evidence of the alleged rape. “He was arrested but he came out on bail and is leading a happy life. Now, the police have taken Kannathal and her child for a DNA test. Only the results will tell if he is the rapist,” a villager said.
“The old age pension of Rs 1,000 per month and the work under the NREGS fetches me Rs 70 a day when I am given work. I have to live and sustain my daughter and grandchild with this income. In another 30 days, I will lose the job under NREGS too. I am not sure how I will manage life after that,” says Ponnammal whose hearing faculties are failing.
Villagers say Kannathal and her child will need some protection after Ponnammal’s lifetime. “Kannathal has mood swings. We find her pampering the kid at times and then we find her watch him crying. Sometimes she beats him when he weeps nonstop. Because they cannot afford to buy 200 ml of milk for feeding the child,” says a villager.
Madurai Superintendent of Police V Balakrishnan said a proposal has been sent to the administration seeking victim assistance fund for Kannathal. “Normally, the fund ranges between Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000. But considering the pitiable condition of the victim this the amount should be enhanced,” he said. “Probe is already over and we are awaiting the DNA results for framing the charge-sheet and commencing trial,” he added.