[Crimes against girls and online harassment are major issues affecting education of women. Supportive approach by parents and society can empower them to overcome stigma and inspire them to achieve their goals in life. With this aim we bring the experinces of Pranamika Saikia, Feminist Criminologist. We wish her all the best in life. Admin]
‘Myself Ms. Pranamika Saikia, from Jorhat, Assam, 25 years old woman from Jorhat currently working as coordinator at Purva Bharati Educational Trust. I decided to come forward to share my story. I hope it will inspire some of you. I belong to a middle-class family with open-minded cultural values. We are 4 members in our family: my Mom, Dad & my younger brother and myself.
During my childhood, I used to play alone and never visited houses/friends in my neighbourhood. In school, I always confined myself to one particular friend, whom I called best Friend. I don’t mingle with people much. After completion of me 10th standard schooling, the dynamism of life was like a Metamorphosis for me. Things started changing in the way they were not supposed to.
I was selected to study in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), Diphu, Karbi Anglong. However I found it difficult to adjust. It was like someone had propelled me into a deserted land. For me, the outside world is as simple as counting ABC. One fine day suddenly, I got a call from one of my seniors during my holidays. I was staying in my home at that time. He said he is nearby my place and would like to visit my home. During my school days, my friends often come to visit my home. So without any hesitation I called him. He came with one of his friend. His friend offered me a proposal of relationship which I disagreed. Because of that they forceibly took my picture with the guy whose proposal I rejected. After leaving my home, the guy started texting me and calling me via phone. For him, we are in relationship and threatened if I deny, he would show our picture to my family claiming that we are in relationship. With fear & discomfort, I started doing whatever he told me to do. Because for me, it was a shame if my parents get to know that I love someone. For me, going against my parents will is like a SHAME and SIN.
One day, when my parents were not at home, he came and took a nude picture of mine and left. I was so worried and tensed. I was in doubt of his intention but was so shocked even to believe that someone can think evil about others. Crime, offence - these kinds of words were not clear to me at that time nor I could even imagine of someone’s cruel mindset and intentions. After a day, he again visited my place with another senior of mine. These three were friends from the same school, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV). He came and invited me to his birthday party, and warned me if I don’t go, he will do something different and terrible this time. I went to his birthday party though I was not happy with this decision. But took his consent to take my brother with me. I thought if my brother goes with me, though he is too young, still he could protect me if they do something bad with me without my consent. While coming back from his birthday party, he came to drop me and informed me that my brother will be dropped by his friend who is actually my senior and already dropped my brother. On reaching home, though my brother left earlier than me but couldn’t find him in my home. I was so scared. The guy accompanying me took this as an advantage and again forcefully took my nude picture and hit me when I denied and tried to release myself from his grasp. Soon, my brother reached and he immediately left me. I was in depression after that.
My holidays were over and after few days of the incident, I went back to my residential school. He started threatening me saying if I leave him, he will leak my photos. One day, after mustering courage with inspiration from one of my friends, I told him that I don’t love him and I can’t be in a relationship with him. He did lot of dramas. I didn’t paid attention. My health went totally bad after this and I came back to home taking leave from the school authority. While staying at home, an unknown guy visited my home, showed me a picture from a distance in his phone. Seeing the blur photo, I thought it might be one of mine and I asked my mom whether someone had used my laptop. I came to know that he took my mom’s phone number before leaving. I hardly pick phone calls by strangers. I asked my mom to receive the call once it happened. The person on the other side, wants to talk to me, my mom told me. The caller said someone is trying to leak my nude picture and offered me to meet him. If I meet him, he will stop the picture getting leaked online.
I realised this time that I have to inform everything to my mom. My mom called the guy and the picture was exactly the one ‘He’ took. My mom called up his parents. But his parents started blaming me for everything and he denied his ‘mistakes’ despite committing a crime. My mom took me to complain to the Superintendent of Police (SP), Ms. Sanjukta Parashar at that time in 2012. She gave me and my mother consolation that the guy will be arrested and will be sentenced to imprisonment for his wrong doings. I went back to my residential school in Karbi Anglong, Diphu.
After 4-5 days, I was called up by SP of Jorhat, Ms. Sanjukta Parashar. I took leave from school and went to meet her. Me and my mom waited whole day in the SP office and then SP arrived with the accused family. She called me and my mom and the accused to her cabin and asked me to compromise. When I denied, she scolded me and hold my mother responsible for everything. My mother was Secretary of Village Defence Party, a local village guard volunteers, during that time. My mom was suspended from the post stating that ‘who can’t take care of her child, how can she take up society’s responsibility’. The SP’s assurance of punishing the guy for the crime turned out to be a bogus promise.
Next day, we started receiving calls from local journalists asking that what we are doing while the accused has been released by the Police. Our house was full of local journalists, they even forced me to dig out and narrate the story. Everything was simply horrible to me at that time. With lots of discomfort, I gave the interview. After the interview, there was a news in the television of my story. Meanwhile I was separated from my school’s best friend, which was one of the biggest tragedies for me, as she was everything to me. I started getting taunts from relatives and friends and society that never stop blaming me. I was denied to get into the school premises stating I’m bringing a bad reputation to the institution, while the ‘Guy’ was still in the school studying peacefully without any worries and difficulties by the institution.
Then my mom called up local NGO named Purva Bharati Educational Trust (PBET), for immediate support and help. And PBET contacted the local bodies of Karbi Anglong, Diphu to help me. After that I was been allowed to continue my study there. The school authority agreed of me staying in the school on the condition that I speak to the media saying that the accused was not from the school where I was studying and we agreed.
My case got transferred to Criminal Investigation Department [CID]. I was distanced from my old friends. They stopped picking my phone calls nor they called me. Regular shaming, blaming and taunts from the society made me psychologically weak. I went for medical treatment after that. I got inclined to substance abuse. Many times, also tried to commit suicide. My mom didn’t continue to take me to doctor thinking that medicines prescribed for me are of high dose and might be dangerous for my health. She stopped buying my medicines. Still I passed my higher secondary education with a First Class, which was very much motivating to me. My best friend who were with me in the residential school were always helpful to me during this phase. They supported me in every way possible.
I always had a wish to study as much as I can. I got this inspiration from my father to be an educated person in life. So, in 2013, I joined Handique Girl’s College in Guwahati. I took Political Science as my honours degree to know how the system runs. I think the incident let me think all these from inside because previously I hardly know what is a Society or how we are enclosed into the system.
Years passed but social taunts and blamings were still on. My life was still going on in search of a change in the society such that no one suffers like me. My addiction to substance abuse started growing as I used to be alone in my Paying Guest and rarely I mix with my college friends. I mingle very less with them with a fear in heart, if they get to know my past, they too will leave me.
In 2015, a guy unknown to me approached and started saying he knows me and all while I was on my way to collect my 6th semester admit card from college. I started ignoring him because I felt that he had some bad intention and I left him ignoring. While coming out of the college campus I show him with almost 10 guys in a Bolero Vehicle. I was so scared to come out. I called up my mom as she was only one who can encourage me at that time. She as usual encouraged me. After talking to her, I went out with full confidence that they can’t do anything to me. But while crossing them, they tried to come near me, as it was a public place and I was with my friend, they didn’t come very close to me. I continued to confine myself into the four walls of my room and not letting anyone to know what’s going on with me. Because of the same feeling that if someone gets to know what happened to me, they will stop going out with me and they will start treating me as the society treats me.
In 2016, I passed my graduation in First Class. One day, a sudden thought arose in my mind before appearing my final examination. I wanted to know about the grassroot of social problems, to fix all the problems and end the sufferings of girls to an extent. To do it, I thought of doing my master degree in Criminology. I achieved to bringmy my dream come true by clearing my entrance examination and viva and getting selected in Criminology Department, in University of Madras, Chennai. I completed my Master Degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice Science in first class again. During my study period, I have learned about the things that had made me more confident and bolder. And helped me became a Criminologist today. I hardly fear the criminals now.
I had never let my problems create a hindrance in my education. Because I love to discover things through education. If you are educated nothing can stop you from being successful in life, I believe. “Education makes a person Independent and Bold”, I believe.
I may not win my case in the court but I know I am a winner when I did’t let these problems become a barrier in bringing my dream come true.
My last word to all girls, “Always dream of doing something that can bring smile to many faces and never pay attention to the noises that create distraction”.