“She is a heroine for me, for what she has gone through,” said Arundhati Roy, who visited the rape survivor from Suryanelli at her present home near here on Monday. The Booker Prize winning writer-activist, who went there along with Elizabeth Philip of the women's activist group Sahaja, had a long conversation with the victim and her parents.

Suryanelli, near Munnar, is in Idukki district; about six years ago the victim and her familiy sold their homestead there and moved near here.

Speaking to mediapersons waiting outside, Arundhati Roy drew a distinction between the societal response to the recent Delhi gang rape incident, and Kerala’s general response to the “Suryanelli case.”

“Those who had done what they have to her are criminals and they should be tried for their shameful act. That is the legal aspect. However, equally shameful is that society, including many of the relatives of the girl, ostracised her, forcing her and the family to remain in the confines of the house,” she said. The victim should be a heroine for all, for what she had gone through.

Referring to the remarks made by Congress Member of Parliament K. Sudhakaran about the girl, Ms. Roy said they should be tried for criminal defamation. “He should step down,” Arundhati Roy said when asked about Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien, whose name is mired in the long-running controversy that recently came to the fore again.

Ms. Roy, who spent nearly an hour with the girl inquiring about her life before and after the incident, tried to motivate her. “I want her to write a book about her experience and the life she and her family have gone through the past 17 years,” she told mediapersons.

According to the girl’s mother, Ms. Roy’s visit was so inspiring. “At a time when all those around us are out with their daggers drawn against us, every soothing word counts,” she said. “Ms. Roy wanted her to come out from her seclusion. What have you got to lose now,” she asked her and told her to be bold, the mother said. “She also told my child that she should write a book about herself,” the mother said.