Light is faith

Between now and the end of the year, the Light Campaign highlights images that represent light and darkness to children who have been sexually abused. We celebrate the creative spirit that exists in children despite dark times they endure.

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.”
-  Rabindranath Tagore
 
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Darkness of sexual abuse follows the child into the night when they sleep and their fears often continue for years. The images several of the girls captured to represent darkness revolved around sleep and their beds. They commented how there is darkness in nightmares.   
 
“I have terrible nightmares,” says Ranjana,* who captured this photo of her bed.  “Mostly about the abuse, which scares me.” 
 
Similarly, Tarini* captured this photo of her lying on her bed.  “I feel afraid of the night,” she says. “I have nightmares which scare me.”
 
Despite the darkness and fears that occupy their thoughts, a child’s faith brings light and can sustain them during dark times.
 
“Prayer gives me peace and keeps me away from bad thoughts,” says Rekha.*  “I pray that I do not have nightmares and that God gives me good sleep.”
 
As we approach the end of the year, support the Light Campaign

CSJ partnered with a shelter home on a photo project that resulted in images used in the Light Campaign. All project participants reside in and receive psychosocial support from the shelter home.  While CSJ provides legal and psychosocial support during criminal proceedings to some of the project’s participants, some images used in the campaign are from participants who we do not represent.
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Light is someone who listens

“When you initially met me, I was scared to talk to you. 
But now I find hope in talking with you.”
- Ranjana*

Ranjana_(light_is_someone_who_hears_your_story).jpgThis image Ranjana captured to represent light focuses on CSJ social worker Deborah, who supports Ranjana as her case winds through the criminal justice process. 

Ranjana grew up in a village in eastern India. Her family sent her to Delhi to earn money for them. Away from her village and support system, Ranjana was subjected to sexual abuse. Now she stays in a protective home with whom CSJ partners. 

Ranjana sees light in those who make themselves available to listen. “When you initially met me, I was scared to talk to you,’ she tells Deborah. “But now I find hope in talking with you.” 

When Ranjana met Deborah, she considered her an outsider; Ranjana’s experience with outsiders wasn’t nice. Deborah saw Ranjana improve drastically during her stay at the protective home. As they continued to meet and talk, gradually Ranjana opened up about what she had gone through. “She went from being withdrawn and quiet to someone who runs across the room to greet me with a hug every time I visit her,” Deborah explains. 

Ranjana continues to suffer from internal injuries caused by the abuse. She longs for justice and to be reunited with her family in her village. But as she waits, Ranjana lives in a safe, loving home among caregivers with whom she can sit down and process her different emotions and thoughts about all that has happened.

Support CSJ and the Light Campaign!  Donate, share our blog posts or like the CSJ Facebook page.

 

* Name changed to protect identity

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Light is a child's heart

Between now and the end of the year, the Light Campaign highlights images that represent light and darkness to children who have been sexually abused. We celebrate the creative spirit that exists in children despite dark times they endure.


Poonam_1.jpgFor Rekha*, the image she took to represent light focuses on deer and horses and the love she has for them.

After Rekha lost her mother at an early age, she stayed with her mother’s friend and husband.  The husband was unwell so the family would go nowhere near him. Rekha was tasked with looking after him, and over time the husband began to sexually abuse her.  Rekha escaped the abuse and was later found in a railway station, homeless. 

Rekha has since been diagnosed with HIV, which she believes she contracted from the husband. While Rekha stays in a protective shelter and receives regular medication, soon she will be transferred to her village, outside Delhi.

“The deer makes me happy!” Rekha says. “I love them…and horses.”

In crimes as horrible as what Rekha experienced, sometimes it’s hard to see children more than victims. But if you look deeper, despite the harm, they still have a child’s heart with love that is pure and beautiful, like the simple love for animals.

CSJ social workers help children like Rekha discover their inherent beauty; and that this beauty transcends the bad things they feel have stained their lives. 

You too can help our clients discover their inherent beauty. Support the Light Campaign and help us reach our goal of $20,000.  Donate, share this blog post or like the CSJ Facebook page.

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Light is friendship

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"In the midst of darkness, light persists."
-  Mahatma Gandhi 

Between October 19 and year end, the Light Campaign highlights images that represent light and darkness to children who have been sexually abused. We celebrate the creative spirit that exists in children despite dark times they endure. 

The pictures Neha* took to represent light and darkness focus on friendship and support during lonely times.

Neha was 14-years old when she came to Delhi to work for a family as a caretaker of their children.  As she went to buy soap from a local shop late one night, a man on the street noticed her and passed lewd comments.  He grabbed her, took her to an abandoned room and raped her. Neha managed to escape and hide in a juice shop until help came. 

“Whenever I am alone, I feel scared that someone is calling me and can harm me in some way,” Neha says. “At these times, I try to hide myself from everyone.”  

When children suffer sexual abuse, shame and stigma isolate the child and create a deep sense of loneliness. Often those closest to them, including family, don’t believe them if they disclose sexual abuse.  They fail to give support or reject the child altogether. 

“Friendship brings out the best in me. My friends encourage me and support me in good as well as bad times.” Neha explains. “They are my family.  They help me become a better human being every day and we learn from each other.” 

CSJ social workers strive to be this support, even family, to our clients as we walk with them during times of greatest darkness in their lives. 

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Our goal is to raise $20,000 during the Light Campaign. Just as we support children like Neha, we ask you to support our work as we bring light to children who have been sexually abused. 

Give a one time or recurring donation. 

Like our Facebook page and share our posts.

Be a light in times of darkness.

*Name changed to protect identity

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Forgiving Offenders: Tanvi's Story

forgiveness.jpgFrom April 6-30, we're telling stories of women and children we help to show what True Justice looks like. We hope to raise $50,000 to help more girls like Tanvi.

When Tanvi* was 11, her father tried to force her to perform oral sex. When she was 13, Tanvi’s younger brother began touching her breasts. Then Tanvi’s grandfather raped her.

Tanvi told her mother about the abuses, but her mother refused to believe her. Eventually, Tanvi confided in an NGO worker who tutored children after school in her neighbourhood. The tutor helped Tanvi register a police complaint.

Since Tanvi’s family was pressuring her to take back the case, the local child welfare authorities shifted Tanvi into a shelter home. Her mother has repeatedly tried to regain custody, but Tanvi has remained firm in her decision to live apart because no one in her family believes she was abused.

Despite her family’s lack of support, Tanvi told CSJ she has forgiven her father and her brother. She doesn’t want them to know about her forgiveness because they haven’t admitted their guilt yet, but regardless, Tanvi feels at peace.

Forgiveness is not only about victims releasing the burden of guilt from those who have abused them.  Sometimes it can be a significant step towards true justice, helping victims release any power the abuse has over them, so they can move forward with their lives. It’s a process that occurs over time and cannot be forced.  Counsel to Secure Justice allows each child the choice to forgive an offender or not, at her or his own pace. 

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True Justice as Reconciliation: Naba and Zohra’s Story

reconciliation.jpgFrom April 6-30, we're telling stories of women and children we help to show what True Justice looks like. We hope to raise $50,000 to help more women and girls like Naba and Zohra.

Naba* panicked. Her 14-year-old daughter Zohra* was missing, and she had no family in Delhi to help her search. Naba’s husband was working in the Middle East, unable to return because his employer illegally seized his passport.

Alone, Naba asked the police for help. Zohra eventually returned home and told her mother she had left with an older, married neighbour who had sexually abused her. Naba filed a report, and the police quickly arrested the accused.

Zohra thought she had loved the neighbour, who had spent months building trust and grooming her. Meanwhile, Naba was furious at her daughter, who in her view had disgraced the family and ruined her future. She locked Zohra in the house and forbid her from meeting friends outside or even going to school.

Oftentimes, when young girls like Zohra suffer abuse, on the surface it appears like a consensual relationship.  The family often blames victims for the abuse and there is pressure to keep it hidden: responses that isolate the victim and divide the family. 

True justice requires families to acknowledge that their children are victims of sexual abuse and to reconcile with and support them so they can move forward with their lives. Counsel to Secure Justice helps victims and their families understand the manipulative nature of sexual abuse and reconcile relationships so victims are validated and receive family support, when possible.

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True Justice as Restoration: Tara and Lekha's Story

lekha_resized.jpgFrom April 6-30, we're telling stories of women and children we help to show what True Justice looks like. We hope to raise $50,000 to help more women and girls like Tara and Lekha.

Tara* moved to Delhi from her village as a newly married teenager. The bustling city thrilled but scared her. Tara’s husband, an auto driver, said the streets are not safe for women to venture alone and that she should not shop or run errands without him, so she remained content in her small corner of the neighbourhood.

Soon Tara became pregnant and enjoyed staying home with her baby, Lekha*. Ten years and two babies later, Tara found herself trapped inside her own home in a spiralling cycle of violence.

When Tara’s parents would knock on the door, she wasn’t allowed to answer unless her husband consented. If he discovered Tara had talked to the neighbours, he would beat her.

True justice requires a restoration of a victim’s security, independence and dignity.  Counsel to Secure Justice works to empower abused children and their families to repair harm that’s resulted from sexual abuse and support them along a path of healing.

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True Justice is Accountability After Gang Rape: Juhi's Story

accountability.jpgFrom April 6-30, we're telling stories of women and children we help to show what True Justice looks like. We hope to raise $50,000 to help more children like Juhi.

Fourteen-year-old Juhi* was fetching milk in the early evening when five men in a truck abducted her. They drove her into the outskirts of the city and gang-raped her inside empty buildings for two weeks.

Juhi tried to run away. After her second attempt, the men locked her inside a store house with three dead bodies. Finally promising to drop her back home, Juhi’s rapists then lured her into a car, beat her, shot her twice with a gun, and dumped her, bleeding, into a well to die.

Miraculously, Juhi regained consciousness and screamed for help.

"I felt a bullet lodged in my chest and yanked it out,” Juhi said. “The other bullet grazed my armpit. I wanted to live and fight the injustice.”

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Drawing Out the Truth: Navni's Story

hands_lower_res.jpgFrom April 6-30, we're telling stories of women and children we help to show what True Justice looks like. We hope to raise $50,000 to help more children like Navni.

Eighteen-year-old Navni* was walking into her community toilet in the afternoon when a boy snuck in and assaulted her. Navni screamed and kicked. He covered her mouth with a handkerchief and forced himself on her.

Immediately after, Navni went home and told her mother what happened. But Navni couldn’t remember all the details of the abuse, a common effect of trauma. In addition, Navni has a mental disability.

Sometimes what victims like Navni need most is for those closest to them to know the truth about the abuse, believe them and acknowledge what happened.  Counsel to Secure Justice provides a safe place for children and their families to speak without fear of stigma and helps them establish the facts of their abuse.  We prepare children to testify so they have the opportunity to speak the truth in court about what happened to them.

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True Justice Begins With Safety: Rhea's Story

girl_and_mom_lower_res.jpgFrom April 6-30, we're telling stories of women and children we help to show what True Justice looks like. We hope to raise $50,000 to help more children like Rhea.

Eleven-year-old Rhea* slept with her parents on their concrete floor to stay cool during hot Delhi summers. One night she woke to her father covering her mouth and taking off her underwear. He raped Rhea and threatened to kill her and her mother if either of them told anyone.

Rhea’s abuse continued for two and a half years. Her mother endured frequent beatings and threats to her life.

A first step toward true justice is ensuring that women and children feel secure in their homes and communities.  A home should provide safety, but millions of women and children in India live with fear inside their own homes. They must seek safety elsewhere. 

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