The conflict is real.
The conflict in knowing just exactly how to feel. Just the right feeling.
Is there such a thing?
On 3 May 2017, “Lighthouse Insights Digital Campaign Awards” conferred the award for “Best Social Cause” on a story called “Chhoti Nirbhaya: A 5-Year-Old Rape Survivor Still Fights Valiantly”. It is a story that The Quint had been following up for over a year – since December 2015, since the brutal rape of a 4-year-old child in Keshav Puram first happened, since a reporter at The Quint went to meet the family, visited every agency of help – since The Quint decided to launch its own campaign to help her. Chhoti Nirbhaya, all of four at the time, had suffered a perineal tear from the rape that had left her bleeding along the railway lines near the jhuggi where she lived. Bloodied and limp, she had crawled back home, to tell her story.
Chhoti Nirbhaya never stopped telling her story. And we wanted to make sure she had at least the resources to. A Bitgiving campaign was launched and the targeted sum of Rs 5 lakh was reached – to help with the excrucitaing series of surgeries no child should have to go through.
I met Chhoti Nirbhaya exactly a year later. She was now five. I wanted to know how she was doing. Within minutes, she’d managed to bring a smile to my face as I sat on my haunches and helped her piece together the jigsaw puzzle she claimed was “very hard to do”. We laughed when neither of us got it right. She held my hand and walked me through the bylanes that led out from her little house. We were friends within a day.
We were friends again whilst I continued to visit her, officially making sure the family was getting all the help they needed from The Quint, reporting on the trial of Chhoti Nirbhaya’s rapist that had just began – but unofficially getting closer to a vivacious five-year-old who had not deserved what was coming.
The darkness, perhaps, will never entirely secede from the staccato line of jhuggis in Lawrence Road where the crime was committed. It will be difficult to escape that darkness while the family continues to live in the claustrophobic cloister where it happened. “Where will we go?” her father had said when I asked.
Long after the battle in the courts has been won, Chhoti Nirbhaya will still continue to fight the battle within – and I know that she will, with the indefatigable courage of the five-year-old friend that I know.
Therefore, today and till the day she wins her battle, this award is hers.
The Quint is proud to have helped her and dedicates this one to her courage.
Here is a screenshot of the award categories that Lighthouse Insights featured, as also the list of winners under their umbrella:
Here is a link to the story The Quint had published on December 23, 2016:
(The Quint will keep updating its story as it continues to follow up with Chhoti Nirbhaya and her family)