Millennium Post

State must extend grief counselling

Anuradha Sharma’s suicide on Friday, 15 February, six months after her daughter Geetika Sharma hanged herself from a ceiling fan in her Ashok Vihar residence in Delhi, might have come as a shocking and unfortunate turn of events to us, but, in reality, it is not. It is rather a grim indictment, and a somber reminder, in an individual and personal capacity, of the astounding callousness on the part of the state and its functionaries, which systematically fail to provide adequate post-traumatic care to not only the victims of heinous crimes such as rape or sexual assault, or their families, but, in fact, has no concept of grief counseling at all. It is appalling and utterly inexcusable that Anuradha, grieving and suffering her 23-year-old daughter’s untimely death, was not allowed to mourn in peace the tragic and completely avoidable loss of a young life. Not only were the witness protection provisions gravely inadequate, but, the fact that the mother, in her suicide note, blamed the very same set of people who were held responsible by her daughter when she hanged herself to death, is telling. An already emotionally fragile Anuradha, unable to cope with the tremendous pressure and mental torture to withdraw the case against Gopal Kanda, that of sexual harassment and abetment to suicide of his former air-hostess employee Geetika Sharma, had become distressed enough to follow her daughter in death.

Kanda continued to abuse his power, position and connections despite being behind bars, as he kept flexing his political muscles and pull the strings from his lock-up cell. What does this say of our jails, our lock up rooms and people who are in charge of them? Were the people who visited or called up Kanda not monitored, or did the state government turn a blind eye to that because Kanda happened to be a powerful member of the ruling Congress party itself? What kind of an inept state fails to envisage the possibility of witness harassment when a case, as serious as this one, was still unraveling? Investigative bodies have their hands tied, while violence against women, in various forms of  physical and psychological cruelties, continues unabated. It gets compounded when our society further inflicts it in the form of stigmatisation and discrimination against the victim and her family. It is barbaric that the state did not wake up after Geetika took her life and her mother, too, had to sacrifice herself in order to drive home the point.
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