The case may not have been launched had it not been for the efforts of activists who created an online petition
A criminal case has been launched in Vladikavkaz over an 18-year-old girl with autism who was reportedly gang raped.
No case was opened until local activists created a petition on change.org to have the crime investigated.
The event in question took place in 2017. Viktoria Dzestelova and her two brothers have autism. Her mother had left for Moscow to take one of her sons to hospital.
Eighteen-year-old Viktoria ended up at home by herself. She met several men online who later raped her and forced her into prostitution.
When her mother, Zalina Dudueva, came home and found out about what had happened, she went to the police. However, the investigative committee of North Ossetia-Alania refused to launch a criminal case against what would have been dozens of men.
The police explained that Viktoria willingly had sexual relations with the men in question.
This conclusion was made with testimony given by the men who had had sexual relations with Viktoria. Initially, the men were questioned as witnesses and not as suspects, and they asserted that they were unaware that Viktoria was autistic.
A psychological evaluation also suggested that Viktoria had ‘a mental disorder with a high degree of suggestibility and hypersexuality’.
Public protest and the petition
The story received wide-spread publicity in North Ossetia after Zalina Dudueva, Viktoria’s mother, spoke to journalists.
In this short video from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, neighbours blame Viktoria and her mother for the event and say that they did not witness any violence committed against the girl. However, none of them mention Viktoria’s autism.
Despite this, the public reacted very negatively to the story.
“Personally for me, this story is less about sexual violence than it is about our society. How misaligned and strewn up it all is, how much indifference there is, violence and hypocrisy,” wrote online blogger for the Caucasian Knot, Alan Tskhurbati.
The decision of the investigate committee to not launch a case immediately brought about public protest. A petition was created on change.org which gathered tens of thousands of signatures.
As a result, almost a year and a half later after the event, a criminal case was finally launched and this time it was given to the main investigative department of the North Caucasus Federal District.
The girl is now in Dagestan where she is being treated by psychologists in a trauma rehabilitation centre.
Her mother said that after speaking to the police, she started receiving threats. She has been taken into protection.
So far nothing is known about the progress of the investigation. Zalina Dudueva refrained from talking to JAMnews noting that her lawyer had advised her to ‘refrain from speaking with the press in order not to harm the case’.