True Justice is Safety | Rhea’s* story

When your own home is not safe, where do you go? When CSJ met 13-year-old Rhea*, she was trapped in a cycle of family violence. The first time her father raped her was during summer when, to stay cool, the whole family slept on their home’s concrete floor. Rhea tried to scream, and her father pushed his hand over her mouth. He threatened to kill Rhea and her mother if they told anyone. Her mother had already endured years of beatings, and sometimes Rhea’s father hit her too. The sexual abuse continued for more than two years until Rhea told a tuition teacher from a local NGO. Her class was asked to write a secret they hadn’t told anyone. Rhea’s teacher helped her tell the police about the abuse. Then, the police quickly arrested Rhea’s father and the judge denied him bail. CSJ lawyer Avaantika is advocating Rhea’s case in court. An important and primary step towards True Justice is to stop sexual abuse and place the child in a safe place, free from further physical and emotional harm. In Rhea’s case, the police arrested her father to temporarily stop the abuse. But Rhea still felt unsafe because her mother continued speaking with her father in jail and neglecting Rhea and her siblings. When Nikita, a CSJ social worker, learned this, she arranged for Rhea to stay in a private shelter home for girls. “Rhea still fears that her father would come back and try to harm her and her mother,” Nikita said. “She used to avoid being at home when he was abusing her. She was relieved after her father went to jail.” Nikita helped Rhea dream again and find purpose and direction for her future. After a long absence, Nikita helped Rhea apply and receive admission in a new school. *Name changed to protect identity.

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