Rape survivors from Haryana recounted at Jantar Mantar here on Monday how the system failed them by not only consistently denying then justice but in some cases “protecting” the culprits as well.
While legal action has been initiated against the perpetrators of the Delhi gang-rape, these women, whose cases didn’t get media attention, are yet to make their voices heard to make the system act against the culprits.
Seventeen-year-old hearing and visually impaired and mute girl Aastha, daughter of a rickshaw puller, was gang-raped allegedly by her house-owner along with his friends in Panipat last November 30. The main accused has now been given a clean chit by the Administration allegedly because he comes from a well-connected and financially well-off family. “Only one of the culprits has been arrested. The main culprit, against whom a case of rape was not registered, has been let off after merely submitting an affidavit to the police. He has been charged with conspiracy in the crime,” said her father Prem Chand who comes from an extremely poor financial background and does not have money to fight the case in court.
Aastha’s father accepted that his family was under intense pressure to compromise. People have been trying to convince him to compromise in lieu of money. “He was told that his daughter had no future. But he can get rich if he wants,” said the local All-India Democratic Women’s Association activist Savita who has been following the case. But Prem Chand chose to fight to get justice instead. Like Aastha, other survivors who betrayed no sense of being a victim narrated their stories with the resolve to fight till they get justice. Though satisfied at the widespread public outrage at cases of violence against women, they said it was quite sad that “people woke up only after an innocent woman was brutalised”.
They highlighted the lack of institutionalised provisions for rehabilitation of rape survivors as the scheme of the Department of Women & Child Development for rape victims was not being implemented due to paucity of funds.
Women groups like AIDWA, National Federation of Indian Women and Himmat demanded that “measures be put in place to protect and help rape victims get justice, overcome the incident and move on productively with their lives”.
(The names of the survivors and their family members have been changed to protect their identity.)