“She’s Quieter Now,” Says 8-Month-Old Rape Survivor Chhutki’s Mom
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Camera: Abhay Sharma
“He will be punished, won’t he?” an anxious mother asks, as she tells me how her baby is doing, almost a month after she entered her house to an unspeakable ordeal.
‘Chhutki’, as The Quint has come to refer the 8-month-old, was at home on the Sunday morning of 28 January – as her parents left for work. Her mother returned a couple of hours later, only to be greeted by her husband’s nephew, 28-year-old Suraj, ambling casually in the gully. “Where did you go, chachi? Your baby was crying,” he told her. The young mother rushed in to hear her baby’s incessant cries; Chhutki was lying in a large pool of blood and stool.
“Udaas Si Rehti Hai Woh”
A visit to the doctor confirmed rape, followed by a police complaint at the Netaji Subhas Place police station. The accused was also arrested. According to Assistant Sub Inspector of Police Parvati, a charge-sheet would be filed in the case this week.
Three surgeries and three weeks after, Chhutki lies in her mother’s lap, far quieter and “sadder” than the parents remember her.
Udaas si rehti hai woh, madam (She has become quieter and sadder). We play with her, feed her as the doctors have instructed, but she has become much quieter than before. Since her first surgery in the hospital, she’s been sticking to her mother and goes to no one else. She didn’t even come to me when I tried to hold her in those first few days after the incident.Chhutki’s father
While the parents sit visibly anguished in their little one-room flat – a flat that they share with the rest of Chhutki’s extended paternal family – they confess that they are ruminating leaving the place for good.
Chhutki’s mother, who hails from Kolkata, and had met her husband while working in Dekhi, tells me that she has been thinking of taking her husband and her two children (Chhutki’s older sister is two-years-old) back to her hometown. “I’d like to be away from the memory of it,” she says, as she changes Chhutki’s bandages, picking from the large bag of cotton that the family bought.
Chhutki needs her bandages changed at least 20 to 25 times a day – the doctors have currently created an artificial opening for stool to pass. The rape had caused a tear in the infant’s vaginal and rectal wall, causing her to urinate and defecate from the same opening for a few days after it had happened.
The room is filled with bales of cotton, stacks of medicines and sheafs of bills, and hospital discharge papers that Chhutki’s father asks if I could help him read from. All this, as Chhutki’s sister hangs on his arm, occasionally hugging and nudging her father.
The family has been bolstered with some help from the Supreme Court and from Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal. While the apex court had directed that the baby be shifted to AIIMS Hospital for better treatment, allocating Rs 75,000 for her medical needs apart from her surgeries, Maliwal had given the family a cheque of Rs 50,000.
However, for a family as hard-pressed as this one – Chhutki’s parents have stopped going to work to take care of their little one – they need all the help they can get. “I want my children to get a good education, with no memory of this hanging over their heads,” insists the father.
The Quint, in association with BitGiving, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for the baby girl. You can help cover Chhutki's medical expenses and secure her future too. Every little bit counts. Click here to donate.