A woman in the country cannot feel safe if a man in a position of power is an accused in a rape case, the activists said.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien should be tried again along with other accused in the Suryanelli case, said activist K. Ajitha.

She was speaking at a press conference here on Thursday along with members of the Suryanelli Case Defense Committee, a forum formed to support the Suryanelli girl and her family.

Kurien had used his political clout to get out of the case, the activists alleged. He should be treated on a par with the other accused. They demanded that Kurien resign from his post in the Rajya Sabha and the investigation of the case be continued. A woman in the country cannot feel safe if a man in a position of power is an accused in a rape case, the activists said.

The Suryanelli case was now being reopened, thanks to the public ire over the death of the Delhi gang rape victim, said Ms. Ajitha. The committee had sent the girl’s complaint reiterating her stand to the Supreme Court in 2005. The attention on rape cases after the death of the Delhi gang rape victim ensured that the Suryanelli victim’s plight came into focus again. “It is unfortunate that a girl had to die for this,” she said.

However, the battle is far from over and justice would be done only if a fair trial is held, she said.

Bhadrakumari, advocate and member of the committee, said society treated the victim as the criminal in rape cases. “The Suryanelli girl has been forced to live in hiding for 17 years. The accused, meanwhile, have been carrying on with their lives and prospering,” she said. The activists commended the girl for choosing to fight her case and not giving up all these years.

Ms. Ajitha said many victims gave up the fight because they stood no chance against the power of politicians, bureaucrats and the police.

“No man in power should think that he can get away with any crime,” said activist C.R. Neelakandan, elaborating on the reason for their struggle.

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