Amnesty International Condemns Jailing of Rape Survivor’s Caregivers

Keeping the social workers in detention not only reflects the judiciary's insensitivity, it also puts their health at grave risk during the COVID pandemic.

COVID-19

After public outrage over the arrest and imprisonment of a rape survivor and her two caregivers by a Magistrate in Araria, Bihar, the rape survivor was released on bail. However, her two caregivers, who are social workers from the NGO Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) have been denied bail and continue to remain in jail. Amnesty International India has demanded the release of the social workers, especially in light of the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.

Avinash Kumar, the Executive Director of Amnesty International India stated: “The week-long incarceration of a 22-year-old gang-rape survivor and two social workers assisting her amidst COVID-19 in Bihar was unwarranted and excessive. On 17 July 2020, the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Araria granted bail to the survivor but upheld the detention of the social workers. Rape survivors already face numerous barriers in seeking redress, which go above and beyond the trauma they have experienced. Each case of sexual violence must be dealt with utmost precaution.”

Amnesty also referred to the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee report to emphasize the lack of gender-sensitive judges and the need to create a friendly and non-hostile environment for survivors of sexual assault. The organisaton’s statement records that: “According to the 2015-16 National Family Health Survey, 77% of women who experienced any type of physical or sexual violence never sought help or told anyone about the violence. Of those, only 3% sought help from police. Lack of trust in the justice system and the stigma attached to the violence deter many from reporting rape.”

In light of this, the insensitive, harsh treatment meted out by the judicial Magistrate to the rape survivor and her social workers in Araria only exacerbates the problems that sexual assault survivors face in accessing legal recourse. By keeping the social workers in detention, the court has put their health and safety in grave risk due to the overcrowding of prisons and the increased danger of contracting COVID-19.

Read Next: Rape Law: Legislative Progress Reversed by Patriarchal Baggage?

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