We first heard about Nilima (name changed) on 27 June 2020. Our social worker got a call from a contact working in another NGO to rush to the Burtola Police Station in Kolkata as a very shocking incident had just been exposed. He briefly shared Nilima’s story with our social worker.

13 year old Nilima was being sexually abused by her stepfather. Nilima’s mother worked in the flesh trade in one of Kolkata’s biggest red light areas. While the mother went to the brothel,  the stepfather would rape Nilima.  He even raped Nilima while the mother was at home after he laced her food or water with sleeping pills. This went on for five years (Nilima was only 8 years old when her stepfather raped her!)  Nilima’s mother eventually learned about the abuse, but when she confronted her husband, he threatened Nilima and her with a knife.  The mother and daughter kept silent and the abuse continued.  In June 2020, Nilima felt violently ill. A visit to the doctor revealed that she was 3 months pregnant. 

 Our social worker met Nilima and her mother at the police station and helped them file a First Information Report against the stepfather, who by then had got a sound thrashing from the public. He was booked under *POCSO and IPC 376 and taken into police custody and later into judicial custody. The police contacted the Child Welfare Centre and Nilima was shifted to a Children’s home. 

 The next day our social worker and a volunteer visited Nilima’s house and spoke to her mother Priya (name changed.)

Nilima’s abusive stepfather was Priya’s third husband.  Priya left Nilima’s biological father, her first husband when Nilima was only 2 and a half years old and moved from a brothel in Barasat in Kolkata to one of the biggest red light area’s in Kolkata. After working there for a few days, she went to her sister’s house, a village in North 24 Parganas and left Nilima with her.  Priya moved to Asansol, a bustling city approximately 230 kms from her sister’s house and started working in a brothel there.  She met and married her second husband with whom she had a son.  Once again Priya went to her sister’s house and this time left her son there.  This marriage broke up as well.  She moved to a red light area in Kolkata and a few years later married her current husband.  Priya shares that her husband was abusive from the beginning. He went to Priya’s sister’s house and brought both his step children to live with them.  The family of four lived in a tiny room in one of the busiest red light areas in Kolkata. She and her children were verbally and physically abused on a daily basis.

Priya swears that she didn’t know that her daughter was being sexually abused and was pregnant. Barely a few weeks after this incident came to light,  Nilima lost her baby. Nilima’s 35 year old stepfather, a man  in the prime of his life has been booked under *POCSO section 6 and * IPC 376.  The case is still being investigated as new evidence has arisen. If the evidence proves to be true, the stepfather will be slapped with a *ITPA as well.

Post her misscarriage, Nilima was kept under observation in a hospital and was to be sent to a shelter home.   But due to the COVID situation was sent home by the Child Welfare Centre, CWC.  Our team in Kolkata made sure that the Police, CWC and West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights visited her regularly.

Nilima is traumatized and vulnerable and needs to be in a safe environment. We are hoping that the CWC will place her in a good shelter home so she can get the care and attention she needs and start healing physically and emotionally.

*POCSO -Protection of Children against Sexual Offences -Section 6 “6. (1) Whoever commits aggravated penetrative sexual assault shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life,

*IPC – Indian Penal Code – Whoever, except in the cases provided for in sub-section (2), commits rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

*ITPA – Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act deals with  commercial sexual exploitation of persons in brothels, apartments, vehicles, massage parlours.