Bengal girl who defied oppressors wins bravery award

Monday, January 17, 2011

NEW DELHI - The trauma she was made to undergo - being paraded naked across three villages and molested by locals on suspicion of having an affair with a boy - did not break her spirit. She filed a police complaint, identified the oppressors and got them arrested. Sunita Murmu, 16, of Birbhum in West Bengal, is one of the 23 selected for the National Bravery Award this year.

Saluting her exemplary act of courage, Murmu will be awarded the National Bravery Award by the prime minister this year in the capital.

A resident of a remote village in Birbhum district of West Bengal, the life altering incident of Murmu, who belongs to a tribal community, happened May 11 last year.

On the basis of a suspicion of having relations with a non-tribal boy, she was punished by being stripped and paraded naked across 10 km and through three villages by members of her community. The torture continued for three hours in the scorching heat.

During the humiliation, she was even molested and sexually abused by the locals of the village.

After the incident Murmu, instead of keeping quiet and defying all odds and even threats to her life, approached the police. She gave a graphic description of the incident, identified all the culprits and helped the police arrest them.

“I then decided that I should know how to read and write and took vocational training so that I could become independent,” Murmu, who was in Delhi to receive the award, said.

The district administration admitted her in a government welfare home to help her. Her exemplary act of bravery has won her the award.

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