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On 9 October 2015, a four-year-old girl in Keshav Puram was lured by an acquaintance she called ‘Rahul bhaiyya’ with the promise of ‘chowmein’ near the railway lines where she lived. She was then raped and brutalized in a desolate spot, while her face was slashed with a blade – the mark of which she still bears today.
The little child was left for dead – but showing great resilience, managed to crawl back home, bloodied and limp, to tell her story.
She suffered a deep perineal tear and for many days after, was unable to pass waste naturally. She needed to undergo a colostomy to be able to pass urine and to defecate through an alternate passage. Doctors, upon examination, let the parents and grandparents know that she would never be able to bear a child as an adult. The family was far too financially backward to be able to afford any of the serious surgeries their child needed to undergo.
At a time of scant media interest, The Quint stepped in and gave the matter serious attention. It partnered with crowdfunding platform Bitgiving to raise money for the child who it gave the moniker ‘Chhoti Nirbhaya’ and spent time with the family to identify their needs at the hour.
Chhoti Nirbhaya spent 28 days in Safdarjung Hospital, undergoing a series of surgeries. The aim was to raise Rs 5 lakh for the family and to spread awareness about her case.
The Quint, apart from consistent and persistent social media pleas to raise funds for Chhoti Nirbhaya, also reached out to celebrities to speak on the issue.
— The Quint (@TheQuint) October 17, 2015
One of the most powerful and heartrending pleas for help came from Nirbhaya’s parents – the parents of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student who was gangraped in a moving bus on 16 December 2012.
Everyone from actors Raveena Tandon and Adil Hussain to director Mahesh Bhatt and guitarist Rahul Ram appealed on Chhoti Nirbhaya’s behalf to the people.
The story was faithfully followed up at each turn – as the charge sheet against the accused was filed, as the kid returned from hospital to give her testimony and as the parents and grandparents continued to let us know of her steady progress.
- The Quint successfully managed to raise Rs 5 lakh for Chhoti Nirbhaya, out of which Rs 1 Lakh was given to the family for immediate use while the remainder was placed in a bank account to be drawn by the family in equal installments over a period of 10 years.
- The money was to be used for her medical and educational expenses. The Quint’s relentless reporting of the rape of the four-year-old child also forced the Delhi government to act – the latter promising compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the survivor’s family.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development also promised The Quint that it would try and aid the family of the survivor through this trauma. The Quint has been following up on Chhoti Nirbhaya at regular intervals, with its most recent documentary and report releasing a year after the incident.
- We are determined to see the campaign through to its fruition, not just monetarily but also through dissemination of information and sensitization of the issue.
The Chhoti Nirbhaya campaign, in partnership with Bitgiving, imparted some valuable lessons in crowdfunding.
- For one, it was our first major campaign where we’d appealed to our readers and viewers for assistance for a child rape survivor, and we were humbled and overwhelmed by the response – something we took into all our future campaigns.
- For another, it displayed the importance of telling a story in its entirety. The Quint not only covered the story from a journalistic standpoint, it also took a stand on what needed to be done in terms of medical and financial help, and determined to see Chhoti Nirbhaya through, to her recovery. It is a story we continue to follow up on, to this day.