Seventeen-year-old Laxmi’s* hands and legs trembled the day she entered a Delhi trial court to testify against her father, who had raped her repeatedly. But by the time she sat before the judge, her fear had turned to anger.
Her mother seated herself beside Laxmi. “Why are you doing this?” her mother asked. “You will ruin everything if you do this.”
For so long, Laxmi thought that if no one would listen to and believe her story, at least her mother would. She was wrong. Her mother continued to support her father instead. Known as a quiet girl who speaks in soft, low tones, Laxmi found her voice that day in court.
“When my testimony was being taken, that time no one could stop me, my mother or anyone else,” she said. “I had the freedom to say whatever I wanted.”
True Justice recognizes victims’ needs to be heard and actively participate in the justice process, allowing them to express their feelings about the incident and narrate their stories in their own words without pressure to conform to another’s narrative.
The court convicted her father and sentenced him to life in prison. Her father appealed to the High Court, which granted him release until the next trial date. CSJ continues to advocate for her case with a partner.
Since Laxmi’s mother still does not support her decision to pursue the case, Laxmi lives in a girls’ hostel in Delhi. She still hopes to restore her relationship with her mother and regain contact with her siblings. She has nearly completed her studies to begin her career in nursing.
*Name changed to protect identity.