Sshh! How India Ignores Child Rape Survivors: Malathi’s Monster
Through real-life stories of child rape survivors, <b>The Quint</b> is focusing on specific lacunae in combating child sexual abuse in India.&nbsp;
Through real-life stories of child rape survivors, The Quint is focusing on specific lacunae in combating child sexual abuse in India. (Photo: Erum Gour/The Quint)

Sshh! How India Ignores Child Rape Survivors: Malathi’s Monster

When the trauma after a rape is so severe that it causes a loss of memory, what does recovery look like? And what if your rapist is someone you know & trust?

Through real-life stories of child rape survivors, The Quint is focusing on specific lacunae in combating child sexual abuse in India — including scarcity of qualified professionals for counselling, legal loopholes and lack of financial support for the child rape survivor. Read the first part of the series here.

This is the story of 16-year-old Malathi*.

(* names changed to protect identity of the rape survivor.)

Also Read : Sshh! How India Ignores Child Rape Survivors: Red Ribbon & a Baby

What Support is Available for a Child Rape Survivor?

As reported earlier, once a case is filed under POCSO, the police refers the case to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) within 24 hours. The CWC also appoints a “support person” to “render assistance to the child through the process of investigation and trial.”

Financially, the survivor is entitled to an interim compensation of up to Rs 1 lakh, which can be used before the completion of the trial and for immediate medical bills. The application for interim relief can be filed by approaching the court.

Also Read : Child Sexual Abuse: How Will Boys Heal If We Don’t Let Them Cry?

In Delhi, the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) are supposed to approve the application in 60 days. The law also specifies a duration of 30 days for the money to be given to the survivor. But in most cases, the delays go beyond the stipulated deadlines.

Under the Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme, a survivor is entitled to a final compensation of up to Rs 10 lakhs for a case of rape. In case the victim is a minor, the compensation figure can be increased by up to 50%.

Also Read : Rape Survivors in India Suffer Daily Despite Reforms: HRW Report

What About Protecting the Rape Survivor Against Threats?

In Malathi’s case, the threat of an acid attack by her rapist derailed the therapy process. But once the perpetrators were arrested & police officials were deployed to guarantee her safety, it greatly aided her recovery.

The Delhi Witness Protection Scheme, 2015, specifies a slew of witness protection measures from monitoring phone calls, concealment of witness’ identity, in-camera trial and regular patrolling around the witness’ residence. An application for witness protection can be filed with the Delhi State Legal Services Authority, who assess the threat and issue orders accordingly.

Also Read : For Child Rape Survivors, Justice Doesn’t Always Lie in the Courts

Why is Counselling Important After Rape?

With child rape survivors, punitive action against the rapist is often not enough. Justice often lies outside the courts, in therapy, for instance, which would enable the rape survivor to return to his or her life before the rape. This is why counselling to deal with trauma is essential after rape.

Also Read : Kerala Pastor Gets Life Term Until Death for Second Child Rape

Apart from the ‘support person’ provided to the rape survivor under POCSO Act, there are other organisations which specialise in counselling for child rape survivors. These organisations often provide psycho-social support and include Sanjivini, iCall (for tele-counselling), Children First, and HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.

Illustration: Erum Gour

(Testimonies of rape survivors published in collaboration with ‘HAQ: Centre for Child Rights’, a child rights NGO working to provide psycho-social counselling and support to child rape survivors in Delhi.)

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