THEME 1: PERPETRATOR IS KNOWN TO SURVIVOR
CASE STUDY: LURING OF DALIT WOMEN WITH THE FALSE PROMISE OF MARRIAGE #1
Suhanthi (Name changed)
State: Tamil Nadu
Date of the incident : July, 2014
Age of the survivor: 27 years
Suhanthi is a teacher from the Paraiyar community. While working at a private school, she met Gopal, a fellow teacher from the Vaniba Chettiyar community who began pursuing her romantically. Suhanthi rebuffed his advances, fearing that differences in their caste background would be a problem, but Gopal continued to charm and pressurize her.
Believing Gopal’s deceitful declarations of love and devotion, Suhanthi fell in love with him and the couple began a four year relationship. Under the false pretext of promises of marriage, Gopal tricked Suhanthi into being sexually intimate. He also routinely extorted Rs. 2000 from her salary each month and manipulated her into giving him an expensive gold chain and earrings, as well as an additional Rs. 10,000 claiming he needed it for an emergency.
Eventually, Suhanthi discovered that Gopal was having another relationship and was planning to marry a woman from his own caste. Distraught, she confronted him about his betrayal, and he responded with verbal abuse, hurling casteist slurs and declaring “If I marry you, my caste and family’s purity will be destroyed.” It was at that moment when it became clear that Gopal had been lying about his intentions from the start.
Heartbroken, Suhanthi turned to his family, who spurned her with casteist and misogynistic attacks. She was threatened and assaulted by his brother, who unleashed a cascade of abuse, shouting “You lower caste woman, how dare you raise a question against us?”, whilst his mother called her a “lower class prostitute”.
After being subjected to concerted harassment and shaming, Suhanthi lodged a written complaint with the police. After police intervention, Gopal offered an apology and gave a written letter wherein he promised to marry Suhanthi within a stipulated time, failing which he would bear the consequences. Following this, Suhanthi was forced to withdraw her complaint.
Gopal reneged on his commitment, instead marrying the woman from his caste. Suhanthi again lodged a written complaint with the police, but action was only taken three months later once local NGOs intervened.
Suhanthi has been provided with trauma-supportive and legal counselling. A formal complaint was prepared and sent to the higher authorities after which she received an interim compensation of Rs. 3,00,000. The case is ongoing and has yet to go to trial.