‘Tell police’ urges family rape case victim
A Sikh woman raped by three members of her own family has urged other women who find themselves in a position of family abuse to speak out and go to the police.
They should do it, if not for themselves, then to help prevent other women from falling victim, she told BBC’s Radio Five, pointing out that women might in some cases help save their own children from being abused.
The woman was attacked first by her step-uncle, as a five year old, and later by her stepfather and brother-in-law.
The three men, who could not be publicly named – to protect the victim’s identity – denied the charges laid against them but were convicted at Cardiff Crown Court of rape and indecency and given lengthy prison sentences.
The step-uncle, 55, was jailed with indeterminate sentence, but a recommendation of 20 years; the stepfather indeterminately with a recommendation for 15 years; and the brother-in-law, 27, was jailed for 12 years.
The step-uncle was convicted of seven counts of rape, three of indecency with a child, and one of indecent assault. The stepfather and brother-in-law were each convicted of three rapes.
It transpired that the step-uncle and stepfather are illegal immigrants who will be deported at the end of their sentences.
The woman told Radio Five that she had been supported in reporting the abuse by her partner who “loved her to bits”. Without him, the truth might not have emerged. She said she wanted to let the events of the past wash away for a while but would campaign to help women who might endure similar experiences.
The court heard of the shocking part her mother had played in her abuse.
Her mother would not believe her when she said she was pregnant by a member of her own family and beat her when tests revealed she was seven months pregnant.
She was sent to India for the birth and her baby was taken away from her the same day.
The woman said her mother hit her with a rod and denied the men could behave towards her as they did because “they can’t do that to you, they’re your family”.
The woman said that while she was pregnant when visitors came to her Cardiff home her mother would lock her away in a cupboard with a large mirror and a sewing machine pulled across in front.
Later, she married but her husband left her, taking their children with him, and she felt so depressed she tried to take her own life.
Her new partner had given her the courage to go on – and to report the abuse to the police.
The woman told the court she had been called names by her community.People said she was a prostitute but she never had been, she said.
She added: “Even nowadays I can’t go out of the house properly because I feel like people are going to talk about me.”
Judge Patrick Curran told the step-uncle: “Not content with your own sexual abuse on her, you encouraged the others to treat her like an unpaid and unwilling prostitute.”
Det.Insp. Chris Mullane of South Wales Police, said the woman had been extremely courageous in coming forward and he urged anyone who had been raped in the past to come forward and the case would be investigated “robustly”.
London-based lobbying group United Sikhs has protested to the BBC about the “irresponsible” use of the Sikh holy symbol, the Khanda, in a news report. It suggested the Sikh religion was connected to the crimes, said the organisation.
It has asked the BBC: “Have you have used the Cross or the Crescent and Star whenever you report on Christians and Muslims committing offences?
It said the Sikh community had been shocked and saddened by the story of how the woman had “suffered prolonged abuse at the hands of those she would expect to be protected by, especially from such a young age”.
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