Abused by a teacher in school, the victim has fought for six years, undeterred by threats.
Chitra (name changed), sits at a podium, her face covered partially with her diaphanous shawl. Only her eyes are visible clearly beyond the mask, and in them, a curious mixture of sadness and triumph. For six years she fought on, and hardly four days ago, she first smelt success – a two-year conviction for the man who sexually abused her.
Chitra was a student at a school run by the Sevalaya Trust, Tiruvallur, during 2006-07. She said she was sexually abused by her Physics master Palanisamy when they happened to be alone in the physics lab. When a friend witnessed this, both of them were warned not to tell anyone about what had happened. If they did they would be failed in the examinations.
Subsequently, Chitra worked up the courage to inform the headmaster about the molestation, but was shocked, she said, when he told her that “such things are common here, and since you are provided with free education, do not disclose this to anyone until you complete Plus Two.”
Chitra also charged that she also spoke to the school correspondent, but no action was taken.
Later, she took her transfer certificate and joined another institution. Meanwhile, she informed one of the donors of the Sevalaya Trust of what had happened to her. M.Shreedhar, her advocate, filed a private complaint before the Judicial Magistrate-I of Tiruvallur. It was only after this did the girl file a case with the local police station, which, however, closed the case without investigation. Meanwhile, the German donors of that institution came to know of the issue.
The case dragged on, back and forth, between the Magistrate court in Tiruvallur and the High Court. And Chitra persisted right through. In the meantime, the school slapped defamation charges against many who were fighting for the girl, Mr. Sreedhar said. They continued to threaten Chitra and her family members trying to force them to withdraw the case, and the local police added to this, he charged.
Finally, the judgment was delivered at the JM-I, Tiruvallur court on December 11, Mr. Sreedhar added. The accused was sentenced to a period of two years rigorous imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000. “The only reason I persisted was because I knew if I didn’t that man would play with the life of other young girls in the school. Now I hope the school management that constantly kept trying to prevent justice for me, will be taken to task too,” Chitra said.
Very few cases of child sexual abuse even reach the court, only some of them result in conviction, Mr. Sreedhar says. “Chitra’s case is significant because she got justice at the end of it.”