On New Year’s Day 2021, a 13-year-old girl in North 24-Parganas district was trafficked, allegedly by an aunt and a man.
She was rescued from a house in south Kolkata three days later, before she could be moved out of the state. In the three days of confinement, the minor was allegedly subjected to multiple sexual assaults.
On May 10 this year, a court in Bongaon ordered an interim compensation of Rs 8 lakh for the survivor. The court also ordered that Rs 8,000 be provided to the survivor every month — for medical treatment — till the case is disposed of.
“The girl is still in trauma. She seldom speaks to outsiders,” said a rights activist who has been supporting the girl’s family.
Immediately after the rescue, her condition was much worse.
“In the statement recorded in front of a judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC, she could barely say anything,” said Jaydeb Halder, a lawyer who represented the survivor on behalf of the North 24-Parganas District Legal Services Authority.
“The initial probe was shoddy. The accused were released on bail,” said Halder.
The original chargesheet did not have any section under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. Only kidnapping and wrongful confinement were slapped on the accused, the lawyer said.
The petitioner, the girl’s mother, had appealed for a re-investigation. After the court allowed the prayer, a fresh medical test was conducted and the statement of the survivor was recorded. On Tuesday, at a hearing at the Bongaon court, a fresh chargesheet was filed.
The new chargesheet includes Pocso Section 4 (penetrative sexual assault) and IPC sections 363 (kidnapping), 365 (wrongful confinement), 372 (selling a minor for prostitution) and 376 (rape), said Halder.
On January 1, 2021, the girl’s parents were at a local fair, selling fritters. The girl, a student of Class VII, was at home with her little brother and grandmother.
An aunt, who lived nearby, allegedly visited their house and lured her with the promise of buying new clothes and taking her to the fair. The girl was allegedly given a spiked soft drink. She was taken to another village allegedly by the aunt and a man, who brought her to Kolkata the next day, The teenager was raped multiple times till she was rescued.
Rights activists welcomed the interim compensation and the monthly amount allocated for treatment.
“The monthly allotment of Rs 8,000 for treatment is something that I cannot remember happening in the recent past,” said Sambhu Nanda, coordinator of Partners in Anti-Trafficking (PAT).
PAT volunteers were instrumental in the rescue and counselling of the girl.