Help Survivors Keep Fighting After the Outrage Has Died Down
As the nation is in outrage about the gruesome cases which have caught the limelight, there are thousands of young children and women who have survived horrific cases of sexual assault and rape. Majlis, a Mumbai-based NGO, works with these victims to provide legal aid and counselling.
Geeta didn't know what rape was until the police told her that it was what her father was doing to her.*
She was just 8 when it started. Her mother had died and she was at the mercy of her alcoholic and abusive father.
She was scared to speak up when the same happened with her siblings. After years of suffering, she finally worked up the courage to run away from home. She was 16. She reached Mumbai and was referred to Majlis through a well-wisher. She told her heart-wrenching story to the legal professionals at Majlis, and asked for help.
Majlis supported Geeta throughout her struggle. They pushed her case in court, and finally her father got sentenced to 10 years in jail. Her original family home was recovered with help of her neighbours by Majlis and she was reunited with her siblings at a shelter home.
Often we focus our anger on the immediate news cycles and the horrific stories that emerge. For child sex abuse victims like Geeta, making sure that they are safe and protected is the first step to rehabilitation. Making sure that her attacker will face punishment is the best way to assure this.
For over two decades, Majlis's all-women’s team comprising lawyers and social workers has provided social and legal support to ~50,000 women and children facing violence and helped them access justice.
Give now and support child sex abuse victims like Geeta get legal services to fight their battles.
*Names changed to protect the identity of the survivor.
By donating to this program
you will be sponsoring the overall costs incurred to support the beneficiaries
What the beneficiary gets
Majlis Legal Centre, through its program 'Rahat' provides socio-legal support to victims of sexual abuse.
In the first response, the all-women team of lawyers and social workers meets victims and understands their needs, offers legal consultation and presents them with the pre-litigation and litigation options available as well as the pros and cons of their case.
Documents, procedures, and processes are explained to them so that they can take an informed decision.
The survivor is informed about the availability of legal services, public & private schemes such as shelter, education, medical, legal aid, etc.
Further legal help is also given as required in the case. Donations to this program will be used for legal documentation and processes expenses as well as personnel salaries of lawyers fighting for sexual violence victims.
When you donate to this program, your help will ensure that the victims have access to lawyers who will fight for them.
23 March, 2021
Transforming Victims into Survivors
At the start of the lockdown, we did risk assessment of victims of sexual violence like the problems faced by victims, their ration requirements, medical needs, lack of access to government schemes, etc.
We coordinated with Child Welfare Committees on case work, problems faced by children during lockdown and effective methods for response. We coordinated with the Police to register NCs and FIRs for victims of sexual violence.
We Coordinated with Children’s Homes and Shelter Homes such as YWCA, Bal Anand, A.D. Bawla, St. Catherine’s Homes and Sneha Sadan on response to victims of sexual violence, case work and problems faced during lockdown. We helped the victims in providing shelter. We referred women and children to counsellors as per their requirements. We coordinated with community organisations to provide ration and supplies to the victims of sexual violence outside Mumbai. We provided reading material to CWC for children in Children’s Homes during lockdown and similar material provided to individual children.
We also coordinated with hospital for medical check-up and follow up and also coordinated with psychologist.
We wrote campaign letters like delay in evidence / trail, complaint letters against police like refusing to file the FIR, not giving copy of the FIR, not filing NC against the accused who is on bail, refused to take cognizance of information provided by Shelter Home, Recalling victim multiple times to record the statement etc…
5 August, 2020
Riya Fauziya Sayeed – A story of courage
Riya Fauziya Sayeed – A story of courage
We received the case by one of the partner NGO schools wherein one of their students, Riya Fauziya Sayeed, aged 9 years confided in their counsellor of sexual abuse. When we went to the school and met the counsellor, she informed us that the child had suffered penetrative sexual assault at the hands of three different accused multiple number of times and that she was traumatized. One of the accused was her khala’s son (cousin). He would often call her and sexually abuse her at his house in absence of her khala (maternal aunt). One day this was witnessed by one of the neighbours. The neighbour then took advantage of the vulnerability of this child and sexually abused the child saying that she would have to do things that her cousin did to her. Yet another man in the locality took advantage and sexually abused this child. When the school first came to know about the incident, they immediately called the mother to school to inform her about the incident. The mother took khala to Riya’s school. The next day when we met the mother, she was extremely reluctant and refused to get an FIR filed as she said that she did not belong to Mumbai and after the death of Riya’s father, it was the khala who supported the mother. Riya’s mother did not want to go against the khala. After a long discussion with the school, we convinced the counsellor to file a complaint as the child had confided in her. After the filing of FIR, our biggest fear was that if the child was sent back home, she would be pressurized. It thus became imperative that we put her in a shelter home. Riya was sent in an emergency shelter home as it was late at night that the FIR filing was completed. The next day when we went to meet Riya for her counselling and preparation for her statement under section 164 CrPC, Riya broke down and cried incessantly as she was separated from her mother and her brother. She also missed her school a lot. Her 164 statement was recorded successfully but the next challenge was to shift Riya to a better shelter home where she could resume her education. One of the team members from Majlis was at the Child Welfare Committee to take an order for moving Riya to a shelter home providing education in English. Riya was taken back to the emergency shelter by the police as per the protocol. The police officer on her way gave Riya false hopes that as her statement was recorded, she could now go back home. Riya was happy but her hopes shattered when our team member took her to the new shelter. On her way it took a lot of counselling for Riya to come to par with this decision. The child said that because of somebody else’s fault, she was being punished. The mother when understood the intensity of the matter moved her residence to a safer place. We did a home study report and submitted the same to the Child Welfare Committee for restoration of the custody to the mother provided she signed an undertaking.Riya’s mother signed an undertaking that the child would continue studying at Akansha and we would do periodic home visits to ensure safety and welfare of the child. Riya is now happy as she resumed to go to the school as her brother. The three accused are still in judicial custody and their bail applications have been rejected by court. We further helped Riya and the school for Riya’s Manodhairya compensation to be released. Riya has now been granted Rs. 30,000 as part compensation.
22 July, 2019
- Organised monthly meetings with partner organisations working in the area of child sexual abuse like our team and the Childline Foundation had a meeting on 5th March 2019. The agenda was to update case status and discuss strategies. Discussed challenges faced by them with stake holders under POCSO Act and IPC in relation to cases of child sexual abuse.
- On 18th March 2019, Majlis conducted Police Training on 'Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012' at Thane Rural.The aim was to facilitate capacity-building of officers and constables, appointed as members of the POCSO Special Cells at every police station. The focus of the training was to ensure that participants were acquainted with legal knowledge and best practices to be followed at the time of registration of FIR, recording of victim statement, and investigation. Participants were sensitized to ensure that the comfort, dignity and best interest of the victim is upheld at all times.
- On 5th January 2019, Santosh Shinde was invited to speak with Majlis team about the Juvenile Justice Act. He is member of the State Commission for Child Rights and former Child Welfare Committee member. He clarified misconceptions about the same in a lucid manner.
Story from the field
Sushma is a 17 year old girl who was brought to Mumbai by her paternal uncle after the demise of her mother in their native village. Her father suffers from a mental disability. Sushma along with her elder sister who suffers from speech and hearing impairment came to Mumabi to study and make their life at their paternal uncle’s house.
Sushma’s matter was referred to us by the Powai Police officer who was at a road block as he did not understand how to proceed further with the matter due to contradicting statement. He found Sushma on Powai station, on enquiry she stated that she was sexually abused by two strangers. They filed an FIR and produced the child before the CWC as per the law. The Committee deemed it fit to keep Sushma in Dongri Shelter home as there were inconsistencies in her statements given before police and before the Committee. In one of her handwritten statements she stated that it was her paternal uncle who was her guardian in Mumbai used to sexually abuse her. Due to multiple contradicting statements, Majlis was appointed as a support person in the matter to talk to the child and figure out how we can help the child and police to proceed in the matter.
LEGAL INTERVENTION: After hours of counseling with the girl, she revealed in another detailed handwritten letter that the reason why she used to run away from the house was that the paternal uncle used to sexually abuse her and she wanted to escape from such torture. The next struggle was to convince the CWC to not restore the custody of the child to the family as paternal uncle was not added as an accused after two handwritten letters incriminating him. The daughter of the accused pretending to be Sushma’s sister would come before the CWC stating that she is her sister and is ready to take the custody of the child and provide Sushma the security she needed. As our social worker had done a home investigation, she brought to this to the notice of the Committee that it would not be fit to send the victim with them. This way we were able to stop the accused family to take back the custody of the child.
The next problem was to get the police to add the paternal uncle as an accused and start the investigation. On several summons from the CWC, police took no action. We then met the DCP of the respective zone and discussed the sensitivity of the issue. Within the next week, IO in the matter was changed and she conducted an unbiased enquiry. The accused was arrested and Sushma’s statement was recorded before the Committee.
Sushma even though said that she did not want to go back home but stated that she did not want to stay back in Dongri Shelter home either as she wanted to resume her education which was on hold since the time she moved to Mumbai 6 years back. It was a challenge finding an appropriate shelter home for Sonali as she had turned 18 by the time the statement was recorded.
Sushma now lives in Asha Sadan and has resumed her education from 4th Standard. She aspires to become a doctor. On the legal front, the chargesheet is now filed and the case in court.
Attached is a photo from our office
|What is the expected total number of beneficiaries in this program for FY18-19?||15|
|What is the number of beneficiaries/ benefits provided in this program, Year-To-Date||13|
|Village/City/State where project is located||Mumbai City , Mumbai Suburbs|
|Total Budget for the project for FY18-19||152300|
|Total Expenses for the project YTD||152536|
9 April, 2019
The co-founder of Majlis, Flavia Agnes was amongst the 13 Awardees of the Bharatiya Mavata Vikas Puraskar, 2018. She used this platform to speak about her work and experiences, and provided insights and suggestions that opened up newer portals to the immense possibilities that lie ahead, instilling belief and faith in our civilization.
Majlis organised a meeting with the Maulas and Muftis associated with Darul Qazas to collectively help Muslim women protect their rights in a swift and fair manner. The topics discussed were
Initiatives to build peace and harmony on the ground.
Interventions to secure rights of Muslim women and challenges faced.
Margilization, State Repression and Concerns of Muslim Women.
On the request of the Crimes Against Women Cell - Crime Branch, the org conducted region wise training for Police Officers and Staff of POCSO Special Cells across Mumbai.
They conducted 5 such trainings for each Region, North, South, East, West and Central. Each training was for 5 hours. The purpose of the training was to build the capacity of officers and constables appointed as members of the POCSO Special Cells at every Police Station. The focus of the training was to make sure that participants were provided with legal knowledge and best practices to be followed at the time of registration of FIR, recording of victim statement and investigation. The participants were sensitized to ensure that the comfort, dignity and best interest of the victim is upheld at all times.
Story from the field
Apar was referred by an ex client and from an ngo med AIDWA. She was married since years together and has 3 children from the wedlock. Her husband was abusive. On or around the year 2015 she was asked to leave the house and go to her village. During this time her husband along with his brother ensured that all her belongings were shifted and she was put on rented premise. When she returned she was shocked. However she adjusted. Though she stayed in the rented premise with her children and husband in the night, she stayed with her brother in law's family during the day.
When she approached Majlis in April 2018, her husband was on the verge of dispossesing her and surrendering his rights in rented premise. Further he told her that he shall ensure she does not get an entry into the matrimonial house too. She came to Majlis at this point of time. She was helped with her document evidence. Unfortutely the time was less as her case was urgent. They immediately moved the court in 2 days.Majlis convinced the Judge to atleast pass ad interim orders for her to secure her residence in the matrimonial house and restrain the husband and the brother in law from throwing her out. However they could not secure orders for rented premise as she did not have a proper proof of residence there.
Subsequently the papers reached the husband and he was shocked on receiving the case papers. He tried delaying the case. He kept his brother absent as the police did not give status report on service of summons on him. Majlis was able to convince court on his dilatory strategy and insisted that summons have been served on him as they live together and service on adult member of the family is valid. The court was convinced too. Majlis then pressed on his say and did not fall in the dilatory ploy. In the say he admitted the rented premise which made the case strong for induction on rented premise. Further he admitted he paid rent 4 lakhs as heavy deposit. This will be helpful for the maintence case too.
However the court changed and matter is before new judge.