Basanti Devi

basanti

Basanti is almost 50 years old, and still committed to constantly learning new skills and gaining as much experience as possible. This beautiful woman is still incredibly determined to continue her education through trainings and workshops, proving her dedication and strong willed nature.

After her husbands death in 1983, and her adult children married with lives of their own, Basanti began to look for work doing what she loved, caring for children. In 2002, she began working for an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who had 4 children. Basanti cared for these children like her own, specifically looking after the two younger children. She was essentially their mother, cooking, cleaning and caring for them every day.

In 2009, the officer suddenly stopped paying her. While this was a problem, since she was living with the family and had been for the last 7 years, she still could eat and have a roof above her head. Unfortunately, though, the officer began to use this lack of payments to force her into a life of misery. The man began to sexually assault her, demanding she had a sexual relationship with him. While she attempted to stop him, he was a very powerful man, sometimes even drugging her to have his way.

Basanti refused to let this be her life, and many times tried to leave. Whenever she tried to go, he would plead with her to stay, bringing the children in front of her who would cry and beg her not to leave. With a heavy heart, she would always stay, despite how terribly he treated her. She could not bear to leave the children behind with this monster. Basanti never lodged a complaint, worried of what might happen if she did.

One day in early 2011, she overheard a conversation between the officer and another man. The officer,not knowing that Basanti was listening, started telling the man about how he wanted to hurt her and damage her. The cook also overheard the conversation, which they recorded. When Basanti confronted him about the conversation though, he again told her not to leave, blaming his behavior on alcohol.
It wasn’t until a few months later on the 29th of April that disaster struck. Basanti brought the children to school as usual. She had been feeling ill for the past few days, and so her doctor suggested she should take a short morning walk to get some fresh air. It was while she was doing so, that a motorbike drove past carrying a man she did not recognise and the personal driver of the officer. Before she could realise what was happening, one of the men threw some kind of liquid on her and zoomed past. Stunned by what happened, Basanti suddenly began to feel her skin burning.

Luckily a nearby woman quickly got water from a store to pour over Basanti, however the damage was still severe, with the acid sliding down her chin, all over her chest, down to her thighs. She was rushed to the hospital as quickly as possible.
The officer met her at the hospital, and told her to keep quiet about the incident, blackmailing her with more threats. She stayed in hospital for 3 days, all the while in the company of a security guard who watched over her as she spoke to doctors, prying on her for the officer to make sure she did not tell anyone the truth. Basanti was never actually discharged from the hospital but instead forced to come home by the officer. She went back to the hospital for a short while after that to be bandaged up, however was left with no option but to return to the officer’s house.

A year later, she worked up the courage to try to leave the house of the man who had hurt her so badly. He gave her a 50 Lakh check in his name to stop her from going to any authorities. After she left, she was unable to redeem the check since it was in his name. When she tried to contact him, she found he had changed his phone number and cut all communication. Basanti even went back to his house, however he refused to speak with her, and again threatened to hurt her if she tried to get him into any trouble.

In June, 2012 she courageously reopened her case against him. The police refused to cooperate with her, continually asking for bribes if she wanted their help. Eventually, after she continued to fight, the officer and his driver were sentenced as being guilty in court. They also attempted to forge court documents such as false orders by the judge stating his exclusion from court proceeding so they would not have to face their punishment. Fortunately, the judge picked up on this forgery, and they were also found guilty of meddeling in a court case. For all her hard work and trauma, Basanti was given just 3 Lakh from the government as reimbursement.

Basanti still suffers from her scars. They are still painful and often tingle. Despite the hardships she has been through, she still dreams of financial independence. She wants to have opportunities to learn, and gain experience in different areas of work. This dedicated and determined woman is willing to commit herself as much as possible to achieve her dream of independence.