A cry in the dark
She was gangraped by 16 boys, nine of them juveniles. She was beaten, cut up and her genitals mutilated. She made it to hospital, but was sent home with first-aid. When she survived to fight, she ran into an indifferent administration and influential accused. Schools denied her admission, and others mocked and threatened her.
Chances are you haven’t heard this 16-year-old’s story. Three days after the brutal attack on her, the Delhi bus gangrape would happen, and a grieving nation’s conscience would not find time or space for this distant town in remote Meghalaya.
It was a dark, moonless night on December 13, 2012, in Williamnagar in East Garo Hills district. Most of the houses in the town were empty as people had gathered for the annual winter ‘Simsang’ festival. Like every year, the star attraction was a fashion show-cum-beauty pageant. That evening, among the jostling audience of youngsters were three teenage girls. They were excited, having convinced family members to let them go without male relatives.
Rabolin K Sangma, 16, says it was she who had convinced the other two, her closest friends, to come along. “We weren’t really interested in the festival. But I had to see the fashion show,” she says.
They left at 8.30 pm, before the show had ended. Fog had crept in by then and turned the trees on the isolated stretch they took past the Sacred Heart Church to soft shadows.
They had walked just a short while when they saw a group of boys coming towards them. “They were behaving strangely. I thought, this is not okay… but I didn’t say anything,” says Rabolin. Seconds later, the boys charged at them. “We started running and turned into a narrow lane. We cried for help,” Rabolin says.