More than a year ago, a 14-year-old had taken a baby to the AIIMS Trauma Centre, claiming to be her mother. The two-year-old baby had bite marks all over her body and severe head injuries. The teenager had, in a fit of rage and frustration, branded the child with iron and bashed her.
The case soon shot to the headlines, not only because of the condition the child, but also because it brought to the fore the issue of child trafficking and sex trade. The teenager who had taken the baby to AIIMS was herself a victim and had undergone a lot of trauma. The child later died on March 15, 2012.
A year later, the teenager is currently living in a shelter and has expressed a desire to study and be a working woman.
When the police produced her before the Child Welfare Committee, her rehabilitation was the main concern after the members realised she was willing to start life on a clean slate.
The team of psychiatrists did not find the 14-year-old girl mentally unstable and that was why she wasn’t sent to one of the regular government shelter homes. “We arranged her to stay at a newly opened child shelter home. We expedited the process because this particular home had a dedicated team for child sex abuse cases,” said a member of the committee.
Regular psychological counselling helped the girl overcome her trauma. Not only had she gone through sexual and physical abuse, but was discovered a few weeks’ pregnant too. The constant media glare added to the stress. She would get upset if anyone pointed out the things reported on her. “She was just 14 and her pregnancy was complicated. We had to approve medical termination of the pregnancy. She was given the best medical treatment but emotionally, she went through a lot at a young age,” said the member.
The member was quick to add that the teenager wasn’t like a typical rape victim. “We would often catch her smiling, if only for a few seconds, if someone cracked a joke.”
But the teen did have adjustment issues and would prefer to stay alone, reported the team of psychologists assessing her. “She was a lonely child. All the physical and sexual exploitation she had undergone made her lose her balance for a moment. But she did bring the baby to the hospital, when she could have easily dumped her. That’s what made us hope. Apart from a regular counsellor, a doctor and a psychologist dealt exclusively with her. After several counselling sessions, the girl opened up,” the member said.
What helped was the fact that she was treated as a victim in the case, and not an accused. She was charged with causing death due to negligence, which attracts milder punishment.
She has a gory past. Her father would often beat her and her mother with sticks and belts. Her mother died when the girl was seven, after which her father sent her to an orphanage. After spending six years there, she was brought back by her father after he remarried. The couple would beat her up often, and she fled the house.
While roaming on the streets, she came in touch with a woman, who forced the girl, then 13, into flesh trade. She came in touch with taxi driver Rajkumar, with whom she eloped. They began living as man and wife in an unauthorised colony of south Delhi’s Mahipalpur.