They say time flies. But for me it got stuck 10 years ago. I was a victim waiting for justice then and I am a victim waiting for justice now.
Recalling the day still sends shivers down my spine. It was May 2, 2005. I was 13 and was on my way home from the house at Lucknow’s Ashiana complex where I worked as a domestic help. A car came and some men pulled me inside.
There were six of them. They took turns raping me, inserted a gun inside me, rubbed their shoes on my private parts and burned me with cigarette butts. I cried, yelled in pain and pleaded for mercy, but they did not listen.
They dropped me at a field, thinking I was dead. But I survived. Maybe God wanted me to see my rapists punished.
The leader of the group was a relative of a don-turned-politician. The court convicted five of them. Two died in accidents. But the prime accused is still roaming free and I am still the Ashiana gang-rape victim who has to hide her face in public.
He has used muscle and money power to delay the case. The Juvenile Justice Board took eight years to decide he was not a juvenile at the time of the incident and even then nothing has changed.
My father has been to court more than 50 times, but the case hasn’t moved. Sometimes the judge is on leave, at other times the defence lawyer doesn’t turn up for the hearing or the accused sends an application with some silly excuse.
My father goes for a hearing date, only to come back with yet another date. He is a ragpicker and on the day he goes to court, there is no income. But the trial of the prime accused is yet to begin.
People tell me he’s married and has a child now. But I am still where I was 10 years ago.
I have relived that horrific moment 28 times in court. Can’t they record it once and use it for their reference? A girl undergoes rape each time she narrates it.
My father whose shoulders are already burdened with my case couldn’t bring himself to allow my younger sister out of the house, not even for school.
But I am pursuing my class 10 from open school because I want to realise my dreams. I want to become a judge to ensure that no girl is denied justice, the way I am being done.
I don’t offer namaz or observe fast during Ramzan, but I will go to Ajmer Sharif when my rapist gets convicted.
I read about the case of the Delhi gang-rape victim. She seems to have got justice, but does a rape victim need to die to get justice?
My rapist moves around in an SUV. His gunmen surround him even when he comes to the court. Seeing this pains me even more.
They tried to bribe me to take back my case. When that didn’t work they threatened me, but I will not stop.
It is tough to fight the powerful for poor people like us. Sometimes, my family is fed up and they want to pack up and go back to our village in Assam. But, I have stopped them each time. Why should we run away like culprits? We haven’t done any wrong.
I want to see how long justice can be delayed. My mother says there is a divine power above who watches everything. I want to see when that divine power gives me justice.
(As told to Richa Srivastava)