Niharika’s fight for her freedom
CSJ’s lead social worker Shabana was on the fifth call in a week with Niharika’s uncle, trying to persuade him to complete her open school admission process. For a minute she lost her cool, but collected herself within a moment and said to him “You take care of her needs and safety, but you need to let her decide her own future, for which she needs to continue her education”
Niharika was 17 and had been sexually abused by multiple men. Her patriarchal family decided it was her fault. And the impact of this unfortunate bias was felt by her sisters too.
Niharika’s mother was staying at their uncle’s home with the girls, after getting out of an abusive marriage. Soon after the incident occurred, her uncle, the family patriarch, decided that Niharika and her sisters must drop out of school and stay confined at home. Niharika was frequently taunted for bringing on the abuse on herself. A 9th grade student then, she lost out on education and a normal life for the next 3 years, not to mention the psychological and physical impact the confinement and taunts had on her.
CSJ was appointed as her support person in 2018. Our task was multifold. We had to get Niharika access to education, help her get legal justice and also negotiate with her family so her confinement could end. Through patience and persistence, our support person was able to negotiate with her family and nearby educational institutions to help her restart her studies.
We also managed to successfully advocate for a monetary compensation of Rs. 2, 65,000 for her. With this money, Niharika was able to buy a mobile phone for online classes and enrolled in the National Institute of Open Learning. She also got some vocational training in mehandi art and stitching. She dreams of becoming a fashion designer and wishes to enroll in a computer course.
CSJ is extremely proud of her progress and we see a bright future for this gutsy, resilient girl. You too can help children like Niharika, rebuild their lives. Support us, so we can help them.