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Bachpan Bachao Andolan Helped 5-year-old Gudiya, A Child Survivor, To Get Justice After 7 Long Years

Bachpan Bachao Andolan Helped 5-year-old Gudiya, A Child Survivor, To Get Justice After 7 Long Years
New Delhi: 

The country was coming to terms with the harrowing Nirbhaya gangrape when in April 2013, the cruel and inhumane case of 5-year-old Gudiya being gangraped and left to death shook the nation once again. The accused – Pradeep Ram and Manoj Shah – used chocolates as bait for Gudiya and enticed her into a room where she was brutally raped, tortured and eventually left to die. Gudiya was rescued 40 hours later in a horrifying situation - tied up, bleeding, and barely alive. What added to the horror was doctors finding a bottle and candles in the private parts of Gudiya. Though the accused were apprehended a week later from Bihar, it took Gudiya and her family seven years to get justice. At a nascent age, Gudiya had to undergo five corrective surgeries in a year's time.

The case of Gudiya revealed glaring gaps in the system and India demanded stronger laws and swift justice. Sharing details of the case, H S Phoolka, Senior Advocate and Gudiya's Counsel, said,

The accused was declared juvenile whereas he was a major and it was found out that the school certificate which the mother had produced is a forged certificate.

Talking about the trauma a victim and the family has to go through in cases of sexual abuse and rape, Gudiya's relative, said,

When poor people go to a police station to file a report, they are not treated properly. In fact, many times the family returns without filing a complaint. They are given so much trouble and asked such uncomfortable questions about where and how the victim was that they get scared and leave the police station.

The social stigma and trauma of fighting for justice in court are often overlooked. The family may have to relocate, and the child needs sustained psychosocial support to overcome the trauma. Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a part of the Satyarthi Movement, provided the support needed to ensure justice delivery in Gudiya's case.

With the approval and consent of the parents, we were able to relocate the family. We provided them constant mental health support; we worked with the court for getting them compensation; we supported her with education, medical facilities and also provided the victim a separate team of lawyers, said, Dhananjay Tingal, Executive Director, BBA.

The law mandates that trials in child sexual abuse cases must be completed in a year and trial in rape cases, in 6 months. Timely justice is critical to deterring the rape and abuse of children. But it took Gudiya seven years to get justice; in January 2020, the two men were convicted.

However, Gudiya's case changed the way we deal with crimes against children. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were established for such cases. It was mandated that police must lodge FIR (first information report) as a case of kidnapping within 24 hours of a child going missing. SOP also called for the formation of Special Juvenile Police Units in each district; Juvenile Welfare Officers to be trained at all stations; setting up of Track the Missing Child portal by the Government.

It's been a long and hard fight but only because her parents spoke up and sought justice, Gudiya has been able to start her life afresh.

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