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When a seven-year-old demands euthanasia

For the past few years, I have been working with rape survivors, advocating for and defending their rights. I have felt how they feel. Below is a story that I have condensed from many of the experiences that I have undergone.

Prema Basnet, a seven-year-old child, was repeatedly raped and sexually harassed by her family. She was afraid and isolated.

Prema’s distance from her relatives, for instance, was a factor of her uncle intentionally groping her sensitive organs, exacerbated by her inability to flee from him. Similarly, her classmate’s boyfriend would often catch her hip and push his elbow against her breasts. Slowly but surely, she lost her senses and started to hate her own body.

When Prema was seven and a half years old, her father and grandfather started to rape her, twice a week. She found herself hopeless, crying, and in extreme physical and mental pain. How can an underage girl tolerate such inhumane treatment? When Prema tried being vocal about her abuse at home, she was met with threats of homelessness and death.

Her mother and her elder sister were abroad for two years, leaving Prema under the guardianship of her father and grandfather. However, a seven-year-old girl had no other options or the support to get rid of the terrible situation festering within her own house.

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One day, she decided to share her ghastly sufferings with her mother. The outcome was obvious; she was scolded by her mother. She said, “Do you know your father and grandfather welcomed you with joy and great happiness when I gave birth to you? They invited many people when you were one-year-old. They love you and I’m sure they wouldn’t treat you that way.”

Prema had made similar prior efforts; she had written a letter to the police, she had shared her pain with her sister and friends. When nobody cared, when the harassment did not stop, when all hope was lost, she was fed-up with life. She wanted to die.

A stark realisation of her hopeless attempt at coping had brought darkness in a seven-year-old child’s life. She stopped feeling, and at the same time, she also stopped eating or drinking. Gradually, Prema had a high fever; she became weak, she no longer had a voice or the energy to speak out.

Her father and grandfather arranged for a doctor to visit her house for Prema’s checkup. The doctor prescribed medicines for her. Nonetheless, she refused to take them. Instead, she kept on asking the doctor to inject a lethal combination of drugs into her: an assisted suicide. The doctor was surprised as he could not comprehend this morbid demand from a little seven-year-old.

A seven-year-old was forced a choice to retreat from life as a repercussion. She neither had any nostalgic moment with her family nor social justice. In several instances, she bit herself until her mouth was full of blood. She would attack people who approached her. It was extremely hard for her to bear the continuous cycle of physical and mental abuse. Eventually, she lost all her common sense. She felt her body was a curse; a seven-year-old had experienced depression and anorexia. Deep inside, she was demanding euthanasia, which is commonly known as assisted suicide.

Most rape victims like Prema would opt for euthanasia: freedom from the pain. Prema simply wanted to be rendered unconscious with pain-reducing drugs, but she eventually would die from natural causes and mental trauma. In the end, she left this world with no one to understand her, suffering for endless years.

Underage child rape is very contemporary in our community. Prema’s story represents a case of isolation, a case of extreme domestic physical and mental harassment. Such victims leave the world with unhappy, unredeemed, and unresolved sentiments. Prema was a small bud who was killed before blooming. Every day we are losing a citizen, a good politician, and a great change-maker in the face of such atrocities.

We have many Premas in our society; their family members and others victimise them. Most rape and violence victims end up feeling isolated, same as Prema. They want support from family, friends, and administration. But, whom do we blame: the system for this social injustice? The community? Or, the lack of provisions for a painless death?  

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Kafle is an advocate and human rights defender.

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