Five Indian families have decided to speak out about their experiences of sexual violence against children — a “disturbingly common” crime, according to humanitarian groups. Although the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act was passed in India in 2012, human rights groups say the government needs to do more.
In each of the cases detailed here in reportage by Getty Images, the assaults wrought drastic changes, and some details may disturb readers. The girls’ names have been changed and their identities concealed.
Eight-year-old Sadaf’s family say she was snatched from the street of her village by a middle-aged doctor, before being assaulted in his clinic. Her family found her unconscious on the street, profusely bleeding — which continued for five days following the attack. It took many attempts to launch a court case, with law enforcement encouraging the family to take compensation from the doctor instead. “He destroyed the life of our child, how can we compromise?” they said.
Dipti was 4 years old when her neighbor, now about 27, found her playing alone on her roof and raped her. Her father discovered her with wet pants, and she told him what had happened. At the police station, she was not offered medical treatment, with the officers saying “your daughter looks fine,” and opting instead to only take her pants into evidence. Dipti’s alleged rapist served one-and-a-half years in jail and is currently free on bail. The family reported that they are under a lot of pressure within their own community to drop the case, as the accused is the only male in his family and their sole provider, and threats have been made against Dipti’s brother if the family persists in seeking prosecution.
Nirmala was on her way to buy candy when she was lured to a wooded area by a man who raped her and penetrated her with a pen. She was later found naked and bleeding heavily, and rushed to hospital where she underwent two surgeries and stayed for several months. As in the other cases, the family is under pressure to drop the court case against her alleged rapist, and has since moved to a different neighborhood to get away from judgments that Nirmala has been “spoiled.”
Indian journalist Barkha Dutt spoke powerfully at the 2016 Women in the World New York Summit about being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse:
Read the rest of the families’ stories at The Huffington Post.