Mumbai: On November 25, a brave 19-year-old girl caught her neighbour in the act of raping his three-year-old daughter, and rescued the child. Since then, the only family known to Asha (name changed to protect privacy) as she inches towards a recovery, are doctors who have been treating her, cops stationed to watch over her, and a caretaker appointed by the NGO that is in charge of her care and protection. Her father, thankfully, is in jail. Her mother has nothing to do with her, having remarried years ago.
Asha's ordeal began last month, when the teenager spotted her being raped by her father, and tried to stop him. Threatened by him, she retreated out of fear for her own safety, but returned resiliently to the crime scene and found the bleeding child. The teenager then washed and dressed the girl before handing her over to the police. According to her caretaker who works with the NGO Yuva Childlife, the child's father forced her to drink alcohol, and then covered her eyes with a scarf. Inebriated, the child fell asleep, only to wake up with pain in her genital area. Doctors later confirmed a tear in her vagina.
The good news is that Asha is now out of danger. The NGO has ensured that someone is always present at the hospital to look after her. Vijay Kharat from Yuva Childlife said, "We came to know about her condition through the media, and were keeping track of her health. She has recovered from two successful surgeries. In three days, we will confirm the date of her third and final surgery.
The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) will decide where the victim will reside after she is discharged. We might even keep her in our association's cottage." For all the pain that she had braved, Asha's spirit is resilient. "She is very well behaved and friendly. She loves playing with the other patients," said her caretaker from CWC. Until last week, Kolsewadi police had assigned two female constables to watch over Asha.
As per the Juvenile Justice Act, child victims are to be produced before the CWC within 24 hours of the crime, but there was an inordinate delay of almost a week on part of the Kolsewadi police in doing so. While they attributed it to the fact that she was severely injured at the time and unfit to be physically produced, CWC members maintained that her case should have been produced, if only on paper. Her father, allegedly a drunkard and a drug addict, has been booked on charges of rape, causing hurt, criminal intimidation and kidnapping.
After taking Asha into its custody, the CWC appointed a psychiatrist to counsel her and has also ensured that she has a supply of toys to keep herself occupied.