When she was just four, her father, a drunkard, sold her off to a pastor in Nerul. Over the next nine years, the childhood memories she formed were those of the pastor’s regular sexual predation at his illegal shelter. After she hit puberty, she was forced to swallow contraceptive pills every time she complained of abdominal pain.
One day, she grew old enough to understand the abuse -- a cause of concern for the pastor, who then palmed her off to another man, also a pastor, in Thane. He was no different from his predecessor and forced himself on the child.
When she resisted, she was sent back to her original caretaker who, to get rid of her, manipulated her age and married her off to a mentally challenged man. She escaped to her mother, who refused to let her be part of her new family and sent her back to the pastor. She finally ended up at an orphanage for mentally challenged girls. It was almost as if sexual fiends were hounding her, for the caretaker here physically abused mentally challenged girls.
It was here, after a childhood and half of adolescence spent being marooned, groped, molested, sexually assaulted and exchanged like commodity, that the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) learned of her plight. Her story was enough to chill them the way reports of inhuman sexual abuse at Rohtak shelter home for women in Haryana had done last year.
Used and abused
On October 7, she appeared before a CWC committee and submitted a written statement along with an audio CD in which she is heard confronting her first caretaker, pastor PT Babu, about his sexual abuse that lasted nine years.
“As I grew older, Babu started taking advantage of me. He used to sleep in bed with other girls and would turn off the lights in the room. On a few occasions, when I got up, I realised my undergarments were missing,” she wrote in her statement. In the CD, she is heard asking Babu about the abortion pills that Babu forced her to consume, sources said.
When Babu feared she’d let his secret out, he began harassing her over petty issues and finally sent her to a friend, pastor Baban in Thane, who had three girls at his rescue home.
“Once Baban molested me and groped me while I was fast asleep. When I woke up I warned him and asked him to stay away from me.
As I refused to comply with his wishes, he sent me back to Babu and from there I was sent to Bible College in Sion. I was 14 years old,” she says in her statement.
At this point, pastor Babu feared she knew too much. “So he took a written letter from my father and manipulated my age to 19 years. Then I was forced to marry a 25-year-old mentally challenged man who was a driver by profession,” she says.
A few days after staying with her husband Williams David, she could not take it any longer and returned to Babu. “My father had died a while ago while my mother has married another man. After I left my husband’s house, my mother refused to keep me with her new family and left me with Pastor Babu once again,” she has stated. Soon after, she was put up in a prominent orphanage for destitute and mentally challenged girls in Panvel.
But she wouldn’t be left alone – sexual beasts seem to have caught on to her presence. A few days here and she got to know that the home’s caretaker was molesting the orphaned and mentally ill girls.
By this time she had written to the CWC, asking to be sent to a shelter home in Bhiwandi. Sources close to her revealed that after narrating her ordeal to the CWC panel, she was under tremendous pressure from her mother to retract her statement along with all the allegations.
“Her mother, who stays with her second husband in Byculla, asked her to take back her complaint with the CWC. It is believed the mother has been paid by Babu to keep mum about the whole thing,” the source said.
At this point, her fight is suddenly snuffed out. The CWC doesn’t know of her whereabouts. Panel members say they can’t carry forward the case till she makes an appearance again.
Child Welfare Committee member Sumitra Astekar said, “The girl had appeared before us and submitted her complaint letter. We gave her admission in Bhiwandi nursing home when she narrated her dilemma. However, she has never come to us after that. Unless she comes before us, we cannot take the complaint forward.”
The accused pastor PT Babu said, “She was staying in some missionary when she was brought to me. I did not initiate her child marriage. All the allegations against me are false. She’s doing this because I had stopped her from having an affair.” Pastor Baban Ghule, who runs an illegal shelter home from his Indira Nagar residence in Thane, said, “When the girl was taken out of a shelter home in Panvel, her father came to me. He fell at my feet and requested me to keep her at my house. She stayed at my place only for a month and a half.” Ghule, too, tried blaming the girl for having affairs.