Trigger Warning: Rape
“I was on my way to school when it happened. My neighbour dragged me into a rickshaw and threatened, ‘Dekho abhi mein kya karta hoon.’(Now see what I will do) I knew that he had some kind of property-related rivalry with Baba.
When I tried to run, he said, ‘If you shout, I’ll kill you.’ I was scared. He locked me up in a dark room with other girls my age; I was 11. The girls there warned– ‘You’ll have to stay here all your life.’
The next morning, he took me to a Kaazi and forced me to say ‘Qubool hai’, thrice. After, he tried to get physical with me. When I resisted, he tore my clothes and raped me, repeatedly. He locked me in a room and would come now and then just to abuse me.
Baba had filed a police complaint. So he took me back home, and asked me to lie that we’d been in love for 5 years and that I married him willingly. But as soon as I saw Baba, I told him everything; my trafficker was jailed.
But everybody knew what had happened, so I stopped going to school. Maa would console me, but it didn’t help.
A few weeks later, that man was released on bail. I was going to testify against him, when he abducted me again and took me to Delhi. We stayed with his relatives; he’d rape me every night.
In a few weeks, I discovered I was pregnant– I was 14. Everyday, he’d convince me to back out of the case– ‘We can start a new life together,’ he’d say; his sister also said that she’d give her property to my unborn child.
I pretended to be okay with it just so they’d take me home. It worked– I was 8 months pregnant when I was reunited with my family. My trafficker was arrested again and I delivered my baby. But 21 days later, she passed away; I felt empty.
But with that, I also felt the burning need to get him convicted. So despite being terrified, I went to court and spoke my heart out… he was finally jailed. I decided to move on and not dwell on the past– I set up a small shop to sell snacks.
Soon after, I got to know about Bandhan Mukti, an NGO that helps survivors like me. I jumped in to work with them– recently, I found out that a 14 year old girl was being forced to marry. I immediately notified the authorities and stopped the wedding. Another time, I found out that a young boy was being beaten by his drunkard father everyday– I rescued him and got him under our protection.
So maybe all I went through wasn’t without purpose– maybe I had to live through it to stop it from happening with others. That’s how I choose to look at it… why else did Allah keep me alive? It has to be for this… so now my life is for this too.”
Story and Photo Courtesy: Humans of Bombay.