Release Bihar Gang Rape Survivor, Activists Now: Women Groups Write to Patna HC

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Patna High Court

Clarion India

 NEW DELHI – Several women groups and activists on Thursday wrote to the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court seeking his intervention in the release of 22-year-old rape survivor and activists arrested in Bihar’s Araria on July 10 after she demanded the presence of women activists while recording her statement before the magistrate.

“We strongly condemn the gross violations of the rights of the rape victim and activists during the course of seeking justice. Such action is not only harmful in this case but sets a dangerous precedent of lapse of judicial accountability which will affect all other survivors of sexual assaults and their support givers,” reads the statement signed by 63 feminist groups and 7,020 individuals.

They demanded that all the charges against the wronged woman be dropped, a smooth trial and quick trial be conducted in the rape incident and specific guidelines be issued to ensure friendly environment in sexual assault cases according to the recommendations of the Justice Verma Commission report.

They also explained that the gang rape survivor’s insistence on presence of the women activists and feminist groups was in line with the recommendations of the Verma panel.

“The Justice Verma Commission report also suggested that the State will provide for “support services for shelter, social workers, Counsellors mental health professional, lawyers” and has and clearly recognised the need for presence of members of women’s organisations or others supporting the vicitm. The report clearly states, “Whether the entire enquiry and trial is conducted in camera or not… In any event, the victim must have a member of the women’s organisation inside to offer moral support,” the women groups noted.

They also expressed their shock over revelation of the identity of the rape survivor and the details of the incident by the media which, they said, had made the situation of the victim worse.

“In complete disregard of the confidentiality legally assured to a rape survivor, her name, address and details of what transpired got reported in the electronic media. A reporter was seen rummaging through the case file in the presence of the court clerk in a photograph uploaded on a social media platform. Because of the leak, the survivor has been made vulnerable to stories in the media, character assassination, and intimidation by the accused and their families and the societal pressures that followed,” they observed.

The activists asserted that while the rapists were at large and the FIR in the incident was unattended, the victim and her supporters were booked under IPC sections 353, 228, 188 and 120B.

“Under no circumstances can we imagine a reason for this line of action against the survivor and the activists supporting her,” they argued.

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