10-year-old girl’s sketch serves as evidence for her rape

New Delhi: An eight-year-old girl whose mother got died, after being abandoned by her alcoholic father was allegedly raped by his uncle, Akhter Ahmed. A Delhi trial court relied on the child’s crayon sketches to convict the accused.

Ahmed was arrested last June, and his lawyer said that the girl, who is now 10 years old, had been trained to accuse his uncle and she could not be considered a witness, TOI reported.

The case took a dramatic turn when the girl, given paper and crayons to keep her occupied during the hearing, sketched an abandoned house, a girl holding balloons attached to entwined strings, and a dress lying beside her. She filled the drawings with grey and dark colours. Additional sessions judge Vinod Yadav regarded the sketches as the child’s impression of her ordeal.

“If the elements of this drawing are considered in the background of facts and circumstances of this case, then commission of sexual assault upon her by somebody in her house after undressing her, and it leaving an impression upon her mind, becomes evident,” he said, adding that it was enough to explain the girl’s suffering to someone having no knowledge about the facts of the case. “Therefore, I find the child victim to be a competent witness,” ASJ Yadav said.

The girl was found on a bus in November 2014 when she fled from her uncle’s house as her aunt who brought her to Delhi had made her work at another house. Besides the work and the ill-treatment, she was also suffering sexual abuse by her uncle. “Her so-called saviour had committed repeated sexual assault on her,” the court said.

The child was counselled by members of HAQ Centre for Child Rights and her medical examination had also indicated possible sexual assault. It took time for the members to collect all the info from her to suspect her Ahmed.

When he was traced and arrested on June 4, 2016, he claimed innocence. The court held that since the sexual abuse was not penetrative, the man would get only five years’ RI and a fine of Rs 10,000. For the girl’s welfare and rehabilitation, the court ordered a compensation of Rs 3 lakh in fixed deposits. It also praised HAQ counsellors Pearl Messy and Uzma Parveen for providing the child institutional care.

“The legal battle is over. The girl lives in a children’s home and is attending regular school. She is doing very well in her studies and hopefully the compensation will help to build a bright future for her,” her lawyer and child rights activist Chandra Suman Kumar told.