Accused Then, he agreed.
A 23 – years – old said he was accused of rape.
Then, he agreed.
That’s where our story begins.
Then, he agreed.
That’s where our story begins.
A man who just started a joyful life with his family. But his life takes a turn and he ends up in a jail due to a rape accusation in which he is implicated although a group of 7 boys is responsible for the fiasco.
Everyone came to court with him that day, except his father.
He was 18 years old, charged with a sexual assault, punishable by up to 13 years in jail.
Often sexual assaults draw notice. His case was one of 1,131 registered in 2017 in the Supreme Court, a place where the judge says the goal is “to correct behavior- to make positive change in our society.”
But his misdemeanor had made the news and made him an object of scorn in the society. It had cost him the newfound family he was looking for after a life in social isolation. It had cost his sense of worth. A step brother who was there yelled: How could you do something like that? Jackie – that’s his pet name, Jackie – didn’t say anything. He just listened, for he knew who’s behind the misery. Although his parents supported him, he doubted himself, wondering if there was something in him that needed to be fixed.
“Perhaps, I am destined to be in jail and spend the productive years of my life in vain.” he began. “I was sentenced 13 years of jail at the age of 18. I had been living without my family since my childhood. My mother and step sister left me when I was 7 years old. My father was a carpenter. He is an alcoholic. My father has children from another mother as well. After my mother left, I was alone. There was no one to look after me. Nakkali aunty from the neighborhood showed little sympathy towards my life.I dropped out from school. Then, I did things to make money to survive. Instead of rehabilitating me, my father encouraged me to earn more money for home.”
“I did all the menial work available in the village from working in other’s field to domestic servant at a house. Then, I started conducting in a local bus. One day, my step sister saw me conducting in a bus. She called me to meet our mother. I felt very happy and content that time. After that, I often visited them. I was introduced to my mother’s relatives too. When my father knew that I was visiting my mother, he became curious to meet her. My sister and I reunited with them. But things once broken, couldn’t be mended. There was always chaos in the family.” he stressed.
“My step sister used to motivate me to study. As I was fond of drawing she used to bring comic books in order to increase focus on study in me. But I told her that school education is a long gone story in my life. My concentration is diverted and all I want is to earn money because I thought money could bring order in my family. I didn’t have proper education. So, I continued to work in local buses. While working as a bus conductor, my friends circle multiplied. Theft, robbery, cheat, weed hunting etc. were common for them. Most folks used Marijuana for pleasure and recreation. There is a proverb in Nepali saying “Sangat Guna ko Fal” which means the kind of relationship you have will definitely shape you. In other words, I started vaping marijuana. It produced a stronger high due to which I could forget my pain for longer hours. Later on, it became a bad habit. I tried to improve by staying away from such friends. But the effect of marijuana had altered my mind and I was addicted.
“One day when I was washing clothes, a group of boys entered my room. They insisted on ingesting marijuana. I denied. A little after 6 pm, we went to a local bus which was parked near my room. The boys were vaping and I was listening to songs. One of the boys threw smoke on my face. Others laughed at me. I kicked the one who threw smoke on me and then I grasped a pipe from him. I was high in seconds. Before it could make me paranoid, I saw a man and a girl stepping in the bus. The man was my step brother. I couldn’t recognize the girl. The ingestion was too strong. After sometime, I could hear one of my friends pulling my hand for redemption. Unfortunately, marijuana had clouded my senses and judgment. It distorted my sense of time. And I lost touch with reality.” He repented.
Immediately after some hours, the news of a gang rape escalated like a tornado in the village. My sister packed my bag and sent me to the remote for the time being. I was underground for months. My mother made all the preparation to send me somewhere far from the hurdles. Meanwhile, my step brother visited my mother and assured her to protect me from being jailed. He disclosed me to the police. I was arrested along with three other boys only when we were 8 boys in a group. My step brother made me say “yes” to every question I was asked. I was panicked since I didn’t have much knowledge regarding all those things. The only choice was to follow him. And I did. I was accused of sexual assault. I was made to agree on anything which I am unsure of doing it in real life. Finally, I was sentenced to jail for 13 years.”
“That time I wondered how she might respond to the news. She was the one who gave me a reason to smile in loneliness. Every morning she used to wait for a bus in the station to go to college. She would only take the bus in which I was a conductor. Although I have seen her from childhood, I never approached her. I was happy looking at her from a distance. Sometimes I also feel like she might have noticed me too. But, now that doesn’t make a difference. (A silent tear slid down his cheek as he slowly reached into his pocket & pulled out a scarf.) This is very close to my heart. She forgot it in the seat the day before the incident. I thought that god created the right time to meet her. But my misfortune, I couldn’t even appear in front of her.” He remembered.
“After my longest sentence in jail- two months after - I was introduced to the life-changing programs like religious service, drug and alcohol prevention groups, religion-based life skills and substance abuse classes, cognitive and behavioral groups targeting violence prevention, life skill classes in parenting, computer skills and finding and keeping employment, education, intensive cognitive restructuring and skill building programs, in-depth drug and alcohol relapse prevention groups to empower those impacted by the jail justice system to create positive change in our community.. Jail programs counselors assessed on my successful transition back into the community as a productive citizen. And it made me feel this is my life now. I should get used to it.” He sighed.
Not many people talk about what it’s like to be a young man inside those bars. Spending time in a jail makes me feel hopeless. On some days, I was locked in my cell for up to 24 hours. All day, every day, you feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and exposed. I found people there would check on me and keep me on track. I am provided two meals a day. Other than that my personal expenses need to be covered either by family or I should work inside jail to make money.
I found my voice and purpose and reclaimed my independence to take my life on a different path. Now, as an assistant leader of prisoners, I get to help other young people so they don’t end where I was: looking out a blurry cell window day after day, feeling trapped and broken. I feel it doesn’t have to be this way. Young people need community care, not cages. These days, I could come out of my cell for an hour to meet visitors as I have become an assistant leader of prisoners. I teach dance to a group of interested prisoners. I have also learnt to make a hand purse, wallet, candles etc. This maintains my pocket expenses.Nevertheless, jail helped me in some ways to improve on myself.” He reported.
“From my experience, I have realized that the major risk factor that increases the chance of younger people committing crimes is social isolation; alienation, family conflict, troubled home life, poor parental discipline and supervision, low family income, poor educational attainment and drug or alcohol misuse. Moreover, peer group pressure, peer involvement in problem behavior, and high proportion of unsupervised time with peers can also increase risk of involvement in criminal activities.” He shared.