Supporting a rape survivor: Shanti's story

TYPF works with Yeh Ek Soch Foundation (YES Foundation) in Uttar Pradesh on the Know Your Body, Know Your Rights programme. One of the areas we work in is Suggamau, near Lucknow, where a 12-year old minor girl, who was a rape survivor, gave birth to a baby boy on 30th December. The incident first came to YES Foundation’s notice in the month of November when youth leaders from our programme, Hiba, Shanti and Aradhana were running session on “Access to Safe Abortion” in the community. A participant in the group shared news of the rape incident that had taken place a few months back, and mentioned that the survivor was pregnant. She also told them that the guilty would be released from jail soon and the community had decided that the survivor was to marry him in order to avoid further scandal.

One of the community leaders in the Suggamau community, Shanti, who is also part of the KYBKYR programme, further pressed the need for urgent action since the survivor was 8 months pregnant and due to deliver soon. This was despite strong resistance from the community to engage with the matter, and heavy disapproval from her family, who did not want her to get involved in the case. Shanti played a crucial role in this whole process and displayed immense courage by continuing to provide the survivor with support and relaying important information on the case to YES Foundation, who in turn provided the survivor and her family with counselling and legal support. She displayed immense courage by calling the ambulance, and coordinating the process to ensure that the survivor received urgent medical help when the survivor went into labour in the middle of the night on 20th December. The support by YES Foundation and the youth leaders in Suggamau, especially Shanti, was crucial in upholding the survivor’s human rights and right to reproductive health care during her pregnancy.

To ensure justice for the survivor and spread the need to work with youth on building them as leaders and agents of Change, YES Foundation organized a silent protest by the name “I Stand With Her” on 2nd January, 2018. This protest and the subsequent work by the youth leaders and Yes Foundation was widely covered in Lucknow media. Shanti, meanwhile, is eager to continue working in the area of gender sensitisation and women’s rights by becoming a social worker after completing her education.