Through June 15, 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.
Lily* was nine when a stranger in her neighborhood raped her. While she was taking her younger sister to urinate outside near her home, a man approached and asked them to come to a secluded jungle area. The man seemed nice and said he was their neighbor’s uncle. He offered to buy Lily biscuits, so she she went with him and sent her younger sister home.
But then the man took out a blade. He threatened Lily until she took her clothes off.
Once Lily’s sister reached home alone, she told their mother a man was buying Lily biscuits. Their parents immediately alarmed everyone in the neighborhood and someone called the police. A search party formed, and Lily’s brother saw the accused crossing a railway with Lily. A mob quickly formed and beat the accused man until the police showed up to arrest him.
After a lengthy trial of four years, including an acquittal and appeal, a judge convicted the accused and sentenced him to 10 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine.
An important component of true justice is accountability. Victims and their families want the accused held accountable for their actions. A conviction at trial handed down by a sensitive judge offers a degree of accountability.
Restorative justice takes accountability a step further. The offender must acknowledge the harm caused and take responsibility without justifying his actions, express meaningful remorse and offer some form of reparation, such as participating in an anger management course.
In Lily’s case, however, the accused never admitted his guilt. Instead, at sentencing he started crying and asked for a lower sentence because he was married. The judge said he should have thought about that before ruining a little girl's life.
CSJ lawyer Avaantika advocated for Lily at the conclusion of her case.
“When the judge told the accused he should feel apologetic, it made us feel like the judges also understand the severity of the crime and the effect it had on Lily,” Avaantika said. “At the end, there was a sense of justice.”