Chin Refugee Committee Delhi

Advocacy and help for Chin refugees in Delhi

Minor Refugee got Sodomized

Posted by crcnewdelhi on May 19, 2010

On 25/02/2010 a 12 year-old Burmese boy from the Chin ethnic group was sexually assaulted by four Indian males in an urban village of west Delhi. Three of the assailants are minors themselves (between the ages of 12 and 16 years) while the fourth is 19 years-old.

The assailants were neighbors of the victim and he had seen them around in the neighborhood for quite some time before the incident took place. On the day of the incident, the victim and his friend were playing when they were asked to clean a drain for an Indian male and that they would be paid for the labor. While waiting for the said man, one of the four assailants grabbed the child from behind and dragged him into an empty shop space nearby. The victim’s friend managed to escape and fled the scene.

The child was sodomized by one of the assailants and another tried to force intercourse and oral sex but failed. The victim managed to escape from the scene and ran away.

Ashamed of what had happened to him, the child did not inform anyone of the incident. However, a few weeks later, the news of the incident had spread through the Burmese refugee community and the victim’s family came to know of what had happened through other sources.

As the assailants were well-known locals in the area and lived nearby, the victim and his family feared retaliation and backlash from the assailants or their friends and were therefore reluctant to go to the police. Furthermore, as the family were anxious about their refugee status in India and were already facing great social embarrassment and scrutiny, they kept silent about the incident for months.

However, with the help of local NGOs and active members of the Burmese refugee community, the family agreed to go to the police and seek justice for their son. In May 2010, the family formally filed an FIR in the concerned police station. The child identified the assailants and the scene of the crime to the police and all four were arrested and presented before the court or Juvenile board.

Having been the victim of such a heinous crime and yet having to live in such close proximity to the criminals who had not been reprimanded for their heinous crime, the child and his family have undergone severe psychological trauma. However, since the filing of the case, the family was assisted in moving to alternative accommodation for their security and the punishment of the assailants has brought them relief and closure.

This relief however, may only be temporary as this case is one of an increasing number of cruel crimes of sexual violence, racial discrimination and physical assault against Burmese refugees living and working in west Delhi. While this may undoubtedly be a general increase in crime in the area for all, Burmese refugees, due to language barriers, uncertain legal status in the country and low economic status are being viewed as particularly soft targets.

The child and his family are recognized as refugees by the UNHCR and have sought asylum in India for a number of years. In this time they have and continue to live in dire poverty without access to medical, educational and other such facilities. Without the legal right to work in India due to their refugee status, there is little doubt that the standard of living will not improve for this family. Now that they have taken concrete steps to close this most traumatic chapter of their lives, they are forced once again to return to the nightmare of living in exile.

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