Horrifying trauma tale of a 13-year-old Andhra girl
Psychiatrists shocked as legal counsellor treats teen who was raped repeatedly for 6 months
GUNTUR: Six months after escaping from the clutches of traffickers, breaking free of the horrifying trauma was not easy for 13-year-old Nandini (name changed).A native of Medikonduru, Nandini was adopted by daily wagers when she was three. She was studying in 7th grade at a local government school when her mother succumbed to Covid-19 in June 2021.
The girl, who was also affected by SARS-CoV-2, was kidnapped by a woman, Swarnalatha (now arraigned as prime accused), and forced into flesh trade. While she managed to escape from her a month later, the horror did not end for her as another agent identified her, and took her back to prostitution and presented her to multiple people for around six months.
The teenager finally escaped on December 18, 2021. After she reached home, her father lodged a complaint with the Guntur Urban Police Station. So far, 77 people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been booked under various sections.
“The girl suffered severe blood loss and sustained injuries. She was admitted to the Guntur GGH and discharged after 15 days. She was counselled by a legal counsellor at a One-Stop Centre (also known as Sakhi Centre) while she was admitted at the hospital,” investigating officer and ASP K Supraja told TNIE.
Elaborating, counsellor Vijaya Kumari said, “On the first day when Nandini was brought to the GGH, she was terrified. She was in severe pain and unable to speak. She didn’t allow anyone, even the doctors, near her. After almost a week, she could talk to a few people without being scared. When she was discharged, her father was told to bring her back every week for counselling sessions.”
After a few days, the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) officials visited the girl at her home to inquire about her health. She was miserable and frightened. Following this, the girl was shifted to a shelter home in Guntur on the instructions of the Women’s Commission. The counsellor recalled that it was difficult for her to explain the trauma during the first five sessions. She was insecure and preferred to be alone. She recovered in March.” Earlier this month, at the request of the girl, the officials shifted her to Meyer’s Home run by Christian Missionaries in Mangalagiri to avoid unnecessary exposure.
‘Astonished’ by the teenager’s quick recovery, ICDS project director Manoranjani who visited the girl a week ago said, “She was laughing, playing with other children. She is also willing to go back to school as soon as possible. She also told us that she wants to become an IPS officer.”
But, psychiatrists beg to differ.
Even though the girl went through horrible trauma, Dr G Jagadish Kumar, a psychiatrist in Guntur, pointed out that she was not provided with any professional psychological assistance. He opined that mere counselling is not enough after all that she had gone through. He told TNIE, “counselling is like motivation, not treatment. Majority of rape survivors suffer from depression, anxiety and develop PTSD. These symptoms cannot be identified by normal counsellors.”
The psychiatrist pointed out that most rape and trafficking survivors have mild symptoms but if left without treatment, they might become suicidal in the long run.” How can a counsellor with no degree in psychiatry identify the symptoms and provide proper treatment to rape survivors?, Jagadish questioned.
He said, “People, especially children who go through such trauma should be treated by a psychiatrist.
After diagnosis, medicines, including anti-depressants, are prescribed which help calm them. Only then can they be referred to a psychologist for therapy and counselling.”Jagadish further added that if rape and trafficking survivors are left undiagnosed, they might even face severe mental and sexual issues in the future.”
Head of the Psychiatry Department at the Guntur GGH, Dr M Uma Jyothi, explained that based on the trauma and condition of a person who has been through aggravating trauma, various therapies including psychotherapy, and cognitive development therapy are given.
Emphasising that the family of a rape or trafficking survivor plays a vital role, she said counselling sessions for both parents and children should be conducted.She added that the mental health of the survivor should be monitored closely for a couple of years without fail.
Acknowledging that normal counselling is beneficial, Dr Jagadish Kumar explained that sharing their trauma and talking to someone considerate can help the survivor but not provide a permanent solution. It just works as a band-aid, he remarked.It has also been learnt that Nandini’s father received a compensation of over `5 lakh from the CM Relief Fund.
June 26, 2021: Girl was tricked by Swarnalatha from GGH
December 18, 2021: She reached home and a case filed same day
December 25: Police arrested 23 persons
February: Number of arrests increase to 56
April 19: More people held, count rises to 73
April 27: Four more arrested
Long-term mental issues likely
How can a counsellor with no degree in psychiatry identify the symptoms and provide proper treatment to rape victims?, Jagadish questioned. He said, “People, especially kids who go through such trauma should be treated by a psychiatrist. When left undiagnosed, they might even face severe mental and sexual issues in the future.”
Girl wants to be an IPS officer: official
The improvement was surprising. She was laughing and playing with other children. She is also willing to go back to school as soon as possible. She also mentioned that she wants to become an IPS officer