At Counsel to Secure Justice, we provide lawyers and social workers to children who have been sexually abused and their families. We don't charge for our services, as our clients cannot afford private legal representation. We help them report the abuse with minimal re-traumatization, advocate for them in court for a conviction and financial compensation, connect them with counselling and medical services, and many other needs.
After supporting nearly 200 children and their families since 2013, we've learned that sometimes, true justice cannot be found in a courtroom.
Beyond a conviction, victims may need more to repair harm from the abuse, such as an apology, a chance to explain the harm to the offender and ask questions, and restored relationships with unsupportive family.
For example, 17-year-old Laxmi* was raped repeatedly by her father. Because of the abuse, she ran away to her mother’s village seeking protection.
Laxmi reported the rape to police. After the abuse, Laxmi spoke in soft, low tones– but in court– she found her voice again. CSJ supported Laxmi throughout the trial.
The judge sentenced her father to life in prison and awarded compensation, the punishment Laxmi had hoped for.
She now hopes to mend her relationship with her mother, who cut her off from her siblings and extended family.
“I want that in the future my mother understands and that I can stay with her,” Laxmi said. “I especially want to go home.
Rather than asking how the offender should be punished, restorative justice asks what victims need to repair harm and who is responsible for meeting those needs. It also asks what the offender needs to never abuse again.
Restorative justice is offered in many countries, but no formal programs exist in India.
With your help, CSJ wants to change this.
Over the next 40 days, we will be raising $40,000 USD for our work (Rs. 4 lakh in India) and sharing stories from our clients to highlight themes of true justice like safety, participation, healing and accountability.
You can help secure justice for children by donating, and even creating your own crowdfunding page and sharing it with your network.
*Name changed to protect identity.