How Can a Five Year Old Die of “Oral Sex?”

On October 1st, I opened the morning paper, and my eyes immediately fell on a line at the bottom of the front page. It read, “5-year-old may have choked to death during oral sex.”

The report was about a 5-year-old girl who had been adopted by a child-less couple in the city of Indore in India, and who had been subjected to sexual abuse by the adopted father for some time.  Then a few days ago the neighbors saw the father carrying the child’s lifeless body out in a polythene bag.  They alerted the police, and the doctors said that the child was sexually abused and had most probably died of choking. The paper reports “Five-year-old Shivani could have choked to death during ‘oral sex,’ said doctors who carried out the autopsy.”

I am angered BUT NOT SURPRISED by this incident.   In a 2007 survey conducted by the Government of  India,  53.22% of children in India said they had experienced some form of sexual abuse, and 22% of them extreme forms of sexual abuse or violence. More so, as the report specified and the above poster does too, we know now, that it is not the Bogey man, but people known to the child in the their circle of family and friends who are usually the abusers.

What I am angered by here is the kind of language used, and what it implies about Indian society’s  attitude or conception of rape EVEN when it involves defenseless children

In India we don’t understand that when we say someone had ‘sex’ with someone else, whatever form of sex that might be — it implies mutual consent.  When someone is violated sexually — whatever form that violation may take, vaginal, anal, oral, or even penetration of non-sexual objects in a sexual way — IT IS RAPE!!!! 

This 5-year-old child was raped to death! In this article the journalist uses the word rape only once — where he indicates that the police has arrested the father on charges of rape.  But that’s it.  He does not use the word rape anywhere else in the article! It appears that that’ how the doctor puts it to him — ‘oral sex!’  It just goes to show that even the educated, socially aware and involved, professional strata in India bring their cultural baggage to how the perceive, deal with and portray rape.

This is not just about the case of this little 5-year-old.  More than 50% of girls in India are forcefully “married” by their parents to adult men and have had two children before the age of 15 years — while they themselves are children!! These girls don’t even have the capacity to say ‘No!’  1/3 of the world’s child brides live in India alone!  Every day in India millions of little girls have men force themselves on them, and we call it a “marriage”, and say they are “having sex.”  They are not.  Thousands of these girls die — because their bodies can’t take the rape or the child bearing forced on them from that rape.  1 in 5 females dies due to pregnancy related causes and this is one of the primary reasons according to UNICEF. 

We as a society in India are condoning and complicit in the rape and murder of thousands of minor girls every year.   And the first place change has to begin is in the minds of the educated, “socially aware”  elite — like this journalist, the doctors, the police and courts.

Leave a comment


  1. Unbelievable. It’s time for the Indian government to consider a widespread training campaign on violence against women and children.

  2. Thank YOU for writing this. When I wrote about how most people in India do not understand the concept of CONSENT, I was called “stupid” and why am I writing about that when there are other serious issues. I mean, hello, doesn’t anyone think that consent is serious enough? Like wtf?


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