This is a story of two rapes, both of which happened in Delhi this year within 10 days of each other. The first, which came to light on April 17, involved a five-year-old girl — Gudiya, as she was later dubbed — who was brutalised by two men over two days in the Gandhi Nagar slums of east Delhi. The second case, reported on April 26, involved a six-year-old who was similarly assaulted and her throat slit in the public toilet of a slum in Badarpur.
The two dastardly instances of child abuse share other similarities — the victims are both daughters of indigent daily-wage labourers who live in jhuggies on the outskirts of the city; in both instances the aggressors were neighbours known to the girls. But that’s were the similarities end. For while Gudiya’s rape, coming just months after the December 16 gang rape, led to a frenzy of public anger, that of the other girl — let’s call her Babli — was forgotten after the first frenzy of indignation.
The result: Gudiya today has not just recovered completely, but she also goes to one of the most sought-after private schools in Gurgaon, a school where monthly fees run into thousands. So careful are the school’s principal and founder of the sensitivities of the case, that no one — not her teachers, nor the special educator who is tutoring her to catch up with her classmates — knows of her identity. Her father has been given a job as a maali in the same school, and her family will soon move into their own home in Millennium City, bought with the nearly Rs 22 lakh that has been raised in her name by Care Today, a charity run by the India Today Group.
Gudiya’s rapists today languish behind bars and the trial, where her case is being argued by public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan, who also handled the December 16 physiotherapy student gang rape case, is moving apace in a special court under the new POSCO Act (The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012).
The contrast with Babli’s fate couldn’t be more stark.
Despite a Delhi government scheme to give rape victims money for medical expenses, Babli has not got any compensation. The family had to dip into its own savings, borrow money and fall back on the charity of a few well-meaning individuals to buy medicines and the pouches that Babli had to wear after her surgery — each cost around Rs 500 and needed to be changed daily. Shamin (name changed), her father, estimates he has spent around Rs 30,000 on medicines and on transport for his daily visits to the hospital, police station and courts. For the first three months, Shamin who has seven children and earns Rs 100-Rs 200 a day selling balloons, also could not go to work. A sum of Rs 1 lakh has been sanctioned for Babli by the Delhi State Legal Authority, says Yogita Chakravarty, a social activist who has been supporting the family over the past eight months, but it is yet to reach her. “The file seems to have got lost,” says Chakravarty.
Babli’s assailant was let out on bail within a month of the rape since he was 16 years old and a minor. He now lives within a stone’s throw of Shamin’s single room tenement, home to around 10 people. “He comes here regularly and has even threatened us,” said Babli’s mother.
Illiterate and unaware of police or court procedures, Shamin has missed a few hearings of the trial underway at the Juvenile Justice Board. “I have not got the summons,” he says. No one, it seems, neither the public prosecutor who is representing Babli in court nor a social activist of Prayatn, the government designated agency for rehabilitation of rape victims, had informed him about hearing dates.