At just the tender age of 17, she has gone through hell. But her indomitable spirit keeps her going and she’s determined to carve a niche for herself one day.
Born in a very poor family (father liftman, mother housewife), Chhavi (name changed) began to work as domestic help to supplement the family income to make two ends meet. Her earning enabled her and her younger sister to take admission in school.
When everything seemed to be going on well, the enemy struck. And he was no one else but her father. Chhavi became victim to her father’s animal instincts when she was in Class 8. On that fateful day, her mother and sister weren’t around, and her father raped her for the first time.
“I shouted for help and resisted his shameful act to the best of my strength. But since fights were a daily affair in my house, neighbours took my shouts as routine and no one came to my rescue,” she said while recounting the horror.
From then on Chhavi’s exploitation became a regular feature. Strangely, when she told her mother about it, she told her not to tell anyone and continue to let the rape happen “to avoid any clashes in the family.”
After some time, Chhavi’s mother added to her woes by allowing a distant relative to rape her in return for money and gifts.
“He would give gifts, money and food stuff to my mother. In return, he raped me regularly and I had no option but to silently bear it all,” she said.
Failing to get any help from relatives, Chhavi went to the police. “The mahila thana cops abused me and chased me away,” she said.
When her father came to know that she had gone to the cops, he began to physically torture her. “Sexual abuse always came with physical torture for me. My father would beat me badly and bang my head against the wall before raping me each time,” she said. And this continued for four long years.
Despite the torture and abuse, Chhavi managed to complete Class 10 and even took admission in Class 11 in a government college.
“I could have run away anytime from the house. But I had to stay back to save my sister from the abuse. Had I left, she would have become victim to what I was being subjected to,” said Chhavi.
The braveheart that Chhavi is, she participated in an essay contest and her essay was selected among the best in the city. She was honoured at the chief minister’s office and it was then that she gathered courage to speak out in public about the torture and abuse by her father and kin.
“Then my FIR was registered and my father and mother were arrested. I was sent to a government shelter home and later to a private home,” she said.
There were pressures and threats from Chhavi’s kin to take back the police case, but she has refused to do so.
“I have seen a lot in life and have my goal very clear now. I want to become a police officer to make sure that no girl is denied help in the thanas the way I was,” she says.
Living in a shelter home for trafficked girls in Lucknow, Chhavi is soon going to enroll herself for Class 12. “I have started my preparations for the police entrance examination as well,” Chhavi says.
Nothing could dampen Chhavi’s spirit and now she stands with her head held high. Besides wanting punishment for her culprits, she wants to do something for girls who have suffered like her.