Betul: Her parents had left her with her grandmother when they left for Haridwar in September 2019 to perform last rites of her grandfather. Even as the 12-year-old was busy preparing for her examinations, 25-year-old Yogendra, who used to live nearby, managed to get her out of the house in Betul on some flimsy pretext and offered her a chocolate. Little did she know that the chocolate was a trap.
When she started feeling a bit uncomfortable, Yogendra asked to rest in his room. Taking advantage of her condition, he raped her and threatened to kill her if she dared to open her mouth.
Petrified, she kept mum but when she had severe stomach cramps on March 11, 2020, she was rushed to a doctor. Doctors confirmed she was pregnant. An FIR was registered the following day and her family was determined to fight for justice.
A thorough medical examination revealed that the child was in Week 28 of her pregnancy. This meant that medical termination of pregnancy was no longer possible.
To ensure safe medical delivery and ensure legal support to the child, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) team in Madhya Pradesh wrote to the legal services authority when the child’s family approached the team for help. The Child Welfare Committee informed that a Support Person had also been appointed and the child delivered a baby who was then sent up for adoption as per law.
BBA’s intervention helped the family get access to legal services. The court ordered in May 2020 that the child be paid Rs 50,000 interim compensation. As per rulebook, the interim compensation is supposed to be credited to the victim’s account within 30 days of the court order but in this case the delay was well past one year.
Fighting for the rights of the child, BBA aggressively followed up with the District Legal Services Authority which finally led to the amount being credited to her account in August 2021.
In the interim, the child’s family got in touch with BBA activists and requested if she could be shifted to some other school. The matter was promptly taken up with the Child Welfare Committee and when physical classes resumed post lockdown last year, she was admitted to another school.
Due to BBA’s constant legal follow-up and close coordination with stakeholders concerned, a special POCSO court sentenced the accused to 20 years rigorous imprisonment and awarded Rs 1 lakh final compensation to the child.
Today, the child wants to leave the nightmare behind and carry on with her studies to give wings to her dreams.