Teen tragically ends life after bullying, sexual assault: mother fights for justice, LGBTQ+ rights

By ninth grade, the bullying escalated to a horrifying level of sexual assault. One day, Arvey came home in a panic, gasping for air. He revealed that his classmates blindfolded him and forced him to undress in a bathroom.

  • 3 weeks ago
  • July 5, 2024
8 min read
Arvey committed suicide in the ninth grade after experiencing bullying and sexual harrassment. His mother now advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. | Photo courtesy of Aarti Malhotra Arvey committed suicide in the ninth grade after experiencing bullying and sexual harrassment. His mother now advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. | Photo courtesy of Aarti Malhotra
Aarti Malhotra, a school teacher at a reputed school in Faridabad, India lost her son to suicide.
Aarti Malhotra, a school teacher at a reputed school in Faridabad, India, lost her son to suicide. Her son Arvey was bullied and allegedly molested by other students at school for being gay. After Arvey committed suicide, Aarti has been fighting for justice. However, it has been a long journey for her, as the Delhi police did not register any complaints for over a month after Arvey’s death, despite a suicide note mentioning the names of those who harassed him. Aarti is now an LGBTQ+ rights activist and also raises awareness about cyberbullying.
Arvey Malhotra, a ninth-grade student, tragically took his own life by jumping from the top floor of his residential complex in Greater Faridabad on February 24, 2022. His suicide note, addressed to his mother Aarti Malhotra, hauntingly stated, “The school has killed me.” The note also held one of his school teachers responsible for his suffering. Arvey had been relentlessly bullied by classmates, who mocked his sexuality. Despite repeated complaints, the school administration failed to take effective action, leaving Arvey feeling isolated and desperate. His mother, Aarti Malhotra, is now advocating for justice, and demanding accountability for the bullying and sexual assault her son endured. Three boys were arrested after a charge sheet was filed. Authorities have invoked Sections 6 and 18 of the POCSO Act against them in the FIR, following an investigation. At the time of the alleged suicide, the two students in question had already transferred to another school. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was enacted in 2012 to comprehensively address sexual offenses against children, emphasizing the importance of protecting vulnerable students.

FARIDABAD, India — When my son Arvey reached sixth grade, his peers began bullying him. They insulted Arvey with names like chhakka (third gender), hijra (transgender), and ladkiyon jaisa (meaning effeminate) due to his sexuality. As a result, Arvey became isolated. No one sat with him on the same bench at school, played with him, or shared lunch together. Arvey felt incredibly alone.

The emotional toll on my son became immense and he felt tormented. By ninth grade, the bullying escalated to a horrifying level of sexual assault. One day, Arvey came home in a panic, gasping for air. He revealed that his classmates blindfolded him and forced him to undress in a bathroom. Shocked, I immediately sought professional help for my son. Although initial therapy failed to yield significant results, we eventually found a therapist who helped him heal.

After the winter break, Arvey’s emotional trauma resurfaced when school resumed. One day, he refused to take his exams and did not respond when I sent him reassuring messages. Tragically, an hour later, a call came in from our residential complex. Arvey jumped from the fifteenth floor of our building. Later, his suicide note revealed that bullying and sexual assault at school drove him to take his own life.

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Ignored by school authorities, Arvey endured constant bullying and humiliation, shattering his morale 

My son Arvey was a wonderful son and talented artist. He loved singing and enrolled in music class. Understanding my struggles as a single mother, he showed great care and sensibility. I separated from my husband to escape a toxic marriage when Arvey was just four years old. Hoping to give him a healthy life, we created our own little world.

As a little boy, he would place his hand on my shoulder and say, “Mama, I am here for you.” Arvey shared everything with me and we formed a bond as best friends, more than mother and son. Everyone loved him and befriended him. Arvey studied at Delhi Public School in Greater Faridabad, India, which ranks among the best schools in the country with many branches nationwide.

When he reached sixth grade, other kids at school started humiliating him with derogatory names and called him gay. His excellence in studies and activities likely fueled the bullies’ animosity. They systematically broke down his morale. Despite working as a teacher at the same school and bringing this to the authorities’ attention, they brushed aside my concerns.

Consequently, my son also began discovering his sexuality. He bravely expressed himself by wearing a headband and earrings, but the people around him rejected this. It is disheartening that society often treats boys who embrace anything considered feminine with cruelty, while girls wearing pants and shirts face no such judgment.

A mother’s wish: “Arranging the funeral for my son was an agonizing experience that no parent should ever have to face”

Arvey attempted to conform to traditional notions of masculinity by taking up volleyball, but his lack of skill subjected him to further mockery. The childhood trauma he endured continued to haunt him. He sought help from teachers and peers at school but did not initially confide in me. Instead, they labeled him a “problem child” and pushed him away.

Sadly, on February 24, 2022, someone called me from my resedential complex to inform me that Arvey jumped from the fifteenth floor. The shock overwhelmed me. For a few minutes, everything went black. The neighbor kept talking on the phone, but I lost my ability to hear. I rushed home and found a few men lifting my son’s lifeless body into an ambulance. He died on the spot. There seemed no point to taking him to the hospital, but being a suicide, then needed to follow procedure.

I spent the entire night at the hospital, waiting to retrieve my son’s remains. I maintained composure during the funeral rituals, even as sympathetic eyes observed me. The weight of being a grieving mother felt like a heavy burden—one that no one should ever have to bear. I wish no mother to experience the pain of arranging her own child’s funeral.

Mother struggles for justice amid threats and warnings 

I soon realized Arvey omitted certain details about the events following the bathroom incident, thinking they would hurt me. However, in his suicide note, Arvey boldly exposed all the boys and teachers who harassed him at school. The boys menacingly threatened him with rape, targeting not only him but also extending their threats to me. Despite receiving intimidating phone calls, I stood resolute.

Aarti Malhotra, a school teacher in Faridabad, India, lost her son Arvey to suicide after he was bullied and sexually assaulted for being gay by fellow students. | Photo courtesy of Aarti Malhotra

After a month of persistent efforts, I convinced the police to register a case against the school and the boys. Despite clear evidence provided by the suicide note, the police hesitated to take action. Arvey’s assessment proved accurate—the boys who hurt him possessed significant influence. The school cunningly removed the boys who molested my son and placed the teacher, whose name Arvey mentioned, on leave.

Despite others warning me that registering complaints would be futile, I moved forward. My unwavering commitment to justice fueled my fight. The boys, along with the principal and the teacher, now face a trial. The authorities jailed some, but they have since been released on bail. The case remains ongoing.

This society silenced a great artist. They mentally and emotionally tormented my son every day until he committed suicide. Losing a child is the most painful and traumatic experience in this world. A mother who loses her child due to someone else’s mistake becomes the most vulnerable person. My son died, and I almost died too, especially with the kind of trolling I received afterwards.

In India, single mothers and their sensitive children face harsh societal judgment

In the aftermath of my son’s death, people accused me of seeking fame. They called me a bad wife and mother who could not care for my family or my child. They said my son’s upbringing by a single mother without any male presence caused him to be gay. Can this truly make someone gay? Can’t we understand simple scientific logic? I paid a huge price for being a single mother. I lost my son, and people still think I failed as a mother. I ask them, what mother would not try her best to raise a perfect child?

People neglect any child who demands their rights like Arvey. They treat parents, especially single mothers, the same way. Single moms in India face a tough world where no one respects them. Previously, schools refused to admit a child without the father’s name. Society leaves no place for single mothers and their children. People call any sensible or emotional child gay because they believe men don’t cry and must be strong. But, my son differed from others. He stayed strong and handled everything alone until he couldn’t.

Mother fights for LGBTQ rights, stands against bullying

Arvey lit up my life like a rainbow, and now my whole world is grey. Since I lost my son, I am living a nightmare. Every parent needs to hear my story. Perhaps my words and advice can help parents save their children. I wish no mother in the world to have a story like mine. No parent should ever endure the pain of losing a young child to suicide.

Through social media, many children reach out to boost my morale. Nevertheless, many silently battle situations like Arvey’s, unable to confide in their mothers due to fear. They also share their stories, revealing that their parents feel ashamed of their LGBTQ+ identity. These parents remain silent, failing to advocate for their children’s rights. In contrast, these brave kids express pride in my efforts, and I commit to ensuring they can lead healthy lives.

Now, I am dedicated to fighting for justice, not only for Arvey but for all those who have suffered at the hands of bullies. Arvey left me with a profound responsibility—to fight for LGBTQ+ rights and stand against bullying. His simple desire for love and acceptance went unfulfilled, but I will continue to fight so that others may find the acceptance they deserve.

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