Asha (name changed) is an eleven year old girl, who studies in sixth grade in a school in Siliguri, West Bengal. She lives with her parents and recently found some new friends when she joined Kadam Badhate Chalo (KBC) activities in her area.
Asha goes to school every day and when she comes back, she also has to go for private tuitions. But earlier, when she used to come back from school and leave for her tuitions, all was not well for her. An elderly man in her neighbourhood would accost her and sexually abuse her. Asha could not find the courage to tell this to her parents as she was scared of her father.
For a very long time, Asha did not disclose her ordeal to anyone. Meanwhile, through her school, Child in Need Institute (CINI) and MFF, she joined KBC, where she started learning about gender-based violence and how she and other adolescents and young people like her can come together to end such violence. It is during one such session, when she broke down and spoke to her KBC friends about the abuse she was undergoing.
Her friends were quick to act. They immediately called Childline and reported Asha’s case. Thereafter, Childline’s team visited Asha’s parents and counselled them to support their daughter and take an action against her perpetrator. The neighbours also came out in support of Asha and her family and pressurized the perpetrator to leave the locality.
Two months later, the perpetrator tried to attack Asha again, when she was on her way to her tuitions and forcibly took her to an empty spot. Somehow, Asha managed to bite him and run away. She immediately gathered her KBC friends and told them about the incident. The entire KBC group then sought the support of her parents and filed a FIR. The man was arrested by the Siliguri police and the case is currently under trial.
With constant encouragement from her friends, Asha is back to school, gradually overcoming the trauma and regaining her confidence. This alert youth group of Siliguri is making sure that they actively engage with their community, so that no case of child sexual abuse goes unreported. In fact, so thorough are they with their work that they have also been maintaining proper documentation of Asha’s case.
Martha Farrell Foundation, in collaboration with CINI has been implementing KBC in different parts of Siliguri for the past two years. In these two years, the youth over there have actively worked against child marriage, trafficking and child sexual abuse.