Between now and 23rd May, CSJ seeks to raise $25000 or INR 17 Lakh, through the True Justice Heals campaign. Help us bring healing to survivors of sexual abuse, and to children who have caused harm and now want to make amends. Donate now through our website or to our campaign on Ketto
Dimple (name changed) came to Delhi in 2018 to get an education. However, with the burden of the responsibility of having to look after her sister’s children, her original plans did not materialize. While her family said she was thirteen, and she did look thirteen, due to the unavailability of an official document to prove her age, Dimple underwent a bone age test which concluded that she was between seventeen and nineteen years old. Dimple had been sexually abused by the landlord’s grandson. After the first time he abused her, he threatened her to keep quiet about the abuse otherwise he would kill the younger children in the house.
Following this, she was abused by him several more times. Until one day, her sister came home early and discovered the both of them. When questioned by her sister, Dimple was afraid of what would happen to the younger children and she refused to tell anything until her sister beat her up. In consultation with the community, Dimple’s sister took the matter to the landlord to hold them accountable, but she came back with a threat of getting evicted. The community then encouraged Dimple’s family to take the case to the police and lodge a formal complaint with the police.
CSJ started working on Dimple’s case in 2018. During her testimony preparation, Dimple started to show severe signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Even though we had walked her through the process of giving testimony in court, , we were aware that it was still going to be exceptionally difficult for her. On the day of her testimony, Dimple was very nervous and as expected, broke down while testifying. The judge put a hold on the proceedings and prioritized Dimple’s mental health over the hearing. He went up to Dimple to soothe her and ensure she was alright, and allowed CSJ’s appointed social worker to sit with her. The judge resumed the proceedings of the court only when he was sure that Dimple was ready for it.
The court staff too went out of their way to make the court environment as comfortable as possible for Dimple to testify. By the end of the day, Dimple was able to complete her testimony – and she did so comfortably. Being able to speak up about what had happened to her was a very big step for Dimple, given the severe PTSD she was going through. Testifying was in itself an accomplishment for her. This however would not have been possible without the sensitive behavior of the judge, the staff in court and everybody else involved. The struggle though is far from over as we continue our work on Dimple’s case and hope to achieve a judgment in her favor.
It is these small successes however, that fuel us to keep fighting. In recognizing that these small ripples are indeed what make up the big changes we hope to achieve in our vision of how the criminal justice system in India ought to be, especially for its youngest justice seekers – children.
Over the last six years, CSJ has worked with hundreds of children who have faced the very worst that life has to offer, but have fought tooth and nail in their perseverance to overcome. The annual True Justice campaign is also a time for reflection and gratitude for all of us here at CSJ. While this is the work we do every day, during the campaign we get a chance to look back on just how far we have come in our mission, and at the same time are grounded by the humility of the children themselves and the knowledge that there is still a long way to go.
If you believe in the work we do, and want us to help more children like Dimple on their journey to healing, please donate to our True Justice Heals campaign. We look forward to your financial support as we gear up to do what we do best, bring the gift of light, love and healing to child survivors of sexual abuse and children who have caused harm and now want to make amends.
Written by: Shreeradha Mishra
Shreeradha is a social justice worker currently collaborating with CSJ to create their True Justice Heals campaign.