Rather than remaining a victim, Varsha Jawalgekar deflected the blows of domestic violence inflicted upon her by her husband and became a champion of women’s rights. Currently a leader at the Parivartan Kendra (Centre for Change), Varsha also channels her human rights activism into various organizations in Maharashta and Bihar. She uses her IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent videos as calls to…
On 21/10/2012, four men threw acid on Chanchal, 19 and her sister,15 while they were asleep. This was a direct result of Chanchal's bold move to oppose continuous sexual harassment by these men. In the above video, Chanchal's family has given a public statement seeking justice from Chief Minister Mr. Nitish Kumar and DIG Weaker Sections, Arvind Pandey. Please share her appeal and sign this petition.
19 year old Chanchal from Patna was asleep on the terrace of her house along with her 15 year old sister. Around midnight, Anil Rai, Ghanshyam Rai, Baadal and Raja Rai climbed up on the roof while the girls lay asleep.
The men then proceeded to hold Chanchal down as they viciously and deliberately poured acid over her with the malicious intent to hurt, humiliate and destroy her. Her sister too, was hurt in this cruel attack.
The girls' screaming woke up their parents Sunaina Devi and Shailesh Paswan who rushed up to the terrace seeing which the men ran off. The girls were rushed to PMCH by their parents and uncle, post which they were admitted into emergency care.
Anil, Ghanshyam, Baadal and Raja had been harassing Chanchal and her family for a long time. Whenever she would travel to go to her computer coaching classes at Dhanapur, they would get into her auto and harass her. Not only would they follow her wherever she went, the local market or anywhere near her house, they would also pull her dupatta, pass sexual innuendos and make obscene gestures at her, haranguing her constantly.
They had torn out the curtains in Chanchal's home repeatedly, and had even ripped the girls' clothes. If anyone protested or tried to stop these men, they would openly use casteist abuses, challenging anyone's ability to do anything to them. This, coupled with their open threats to destroy Chanchal's face if she did not give in to them, had terrorised Chanchal's entire family.
The police arrested the four perpetrators, but they showed Anil Rai (who is a major i.e. over 18 yrs of age) to be a minor and had him shifted to a Juvenile Home.
Chanchal who is also a major (she has a 10th std passing certificate that shows her date of birth to be 1/6/93. Birth certificates are legally accepted as proof of age in India) was shown to be a minor in the police report and this meant that she received less compensation (as according to the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities act). She was also declared to be a non-earning member of the family, further diminishing the compensation amount. There was talk of the perpetrators paying for Chanchal and her sister's treatment and plastic surgery costs but till date Chanchal's family has been bearing these expenses. After the case was filed, they received only INR 242,000 as compensation. This too came after protests and pressure from women's rights organizations.
The National and State Commisions for women have also not taken any action on the case and have ignored it thus far.
Chanchal was not only a brilliant student, but also a dedicated earning member of her family. She contributed to her family's income by working in the fields around her village. She had a bright future which has been ruined by the four accused.
Community Correspondent Varsha has always been a powerful voice to reckon with when it has been for the rights of women. She is a leader at the Parivartan Kendra (Centre for Change) and has herself emerged victorious from a bitter personal battle against domestic violence. She uses her human rights activism to create networks in Maharashtra and Bihar and had been a pioneer in using her IndiaUnheard videos as calls to action for her people and to provide visual evidence to officials who have the power to affect positive change.
Says Varsha, "Women have been treated as objects for the longest time, and it is now time to change that. Not a single woman in this entire country deserves the constant harassment they are subjected to on a daily basis. We will not put up with this anymore. Society needs to wake up and address these gross barbaric acts of violence. I urge every single viewer to stop looking away when they see violence against women. Those men probably assumed Chanchal would die in silence. Well, Chanchal has decided to fight for justice. And I will fight with her."
Join Varsha and tell District Magistrate, Patna Mr.N Shravan Kumar to take all possible measures to ensure speedy justice for Chanchal and her sister:
1) Ensure that Chanchal and her sister get complete and proper compensation, with employment and education support and legal expenses, from the state.
2) Ensure that Chanchal and her sister get speedy justice and her case is dealt by a fast track court immediately.
3) Ensure that her statement is recorded under Section 164, which gives a complete and detailed account of the case.
4) All medical expenses, medicines, surgeries should be compensated by the state.
Click here to sign the petition: http://change.org/chanchal
Watch Varsha's other videos here.
Article by: Radhika