"Snehalaya helped me paint a new future"
Rana was just 14 years old when she was lured away from her family by an older man, drugged, raped, and forced into a child sex ring.
Together with one other girl, she was passed between hotels and guesthouses for six months between 2005 and 2006. The girls were only rescued after Rana’s father called the Snehalaya Childline who located and rescued her.
“That night when the girls arrived they were in shock, they were experiencing trauma”, says one of the rescue team. “We called the police who took them so they got the story. We accompanied them; [Snehalaya’s] policy is that when there is a discriminated girl, we try to be with them. We neither push nor pressure them, nor do we remain in the background. We are with the survivor, always.”
In 2007, a year after the crimes had taken place, Rana’s case was brought before the District and Sessions Court in Ahmednagar, where 25 attackers were tried for gang rape and forced prostitution. During the trial, Rana was cross-examined by 20 diﬀerent lawyers for seven consecutive months. Court documents call this cross-examination “exhaustive and extensive.”.
“I felt nervous and anxious,” Rana says of being on the witness stand for such a long time. “My attackers were all in front of me and I was worried they would threaten to kill me. I could see them sitting there.”
The case was ﬁnally concluded in 2010 after a four year investigation. It resulted in a landmark ruling by District and Sessions Court Judge Makarand Keskar on 20 October 2010. The judge sentenced 22 people – many of whom were well known local political leaders, merchants, and hotel owners – to two consecutive life sentences each for gang rape and criminal conspiracy. Without Snehalaya’s guidance, counselling and unwavering support, this would not have been possible. “It was Snehalaya” Rana explained, that helped her endure the four traumatic years of the trial. “Without them I don’t know where I would be.”