Rape Survivor who was sent to jail for `Contempt of Court´ Recounts Her Traumatic Ordeal

From victim blaming, unsympathetic police and judge Khushi recounted a horrific ordeal that is so common to rape survivors. The judge kept calling her "Mannerless Girl"!

rape survivors

On July 10th, the arrest and detention of a rape survivor and her support persons in Araria, Bihar caught national headlines.

Today, more details have emerged about the humiliation and harassment that the rape survivor and her two support workers faced.

“If you were in my position, how would you feel? In these four days, I’ve recounted my experience of the night of the rape to the police so many times. So many times, I was the one who was blamed for this incident”, she said.

The rape survivor, Khushi (name changed to protect her identity), was made to spend 10 days in jail after a Magistrate charged her with contempt of court. Her two support persons from Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS), Kalyani and Tanmay, are still in jail.

On being released from custody, Khushi recounted the horrific ordeal she underwent in reporting and registering her rape complaint.

With support and encouragement from Kalyani and Tanmay, Khushi gathered the courage to approach the police and file a complaint about the gang-rape committed on her. But after being made to wait for hours in court, in close proximity to a male accomplice of the alleged rapists, she became anxious and unnerved.

“If you were in my position, how would you feel? In these four days, I’ve recounted my experience of the night of the rape to the police so many times. So many times, I was the one who was blamed for this incident”, she said.

Khushi explained: “At court, after a long wait the judge called me inside. Now only he & I were in the room. I have never been in such an environment. ‘What will happen now? What will I have to do? Why are Kalyani didi & Tanmay Bhaiya not here with me?’, these thoughts were on my mind. Then he (judge) started to read out what he had written. His mouth was covered with a handkerchief. I could not understand my testimony when he was reading it out. I was wondering whether what I had said was what was written.” When she asked him if he could remove the handkerchief and then read out the statement, the judge refused.

“Then the judge asked me to sign on that statement. I might not have gone to school but I know this much that until you don’t understand something, you shouldn’t sign on any piece of paper. I again said that I do not understand, please call Kalyani didi, she can read it out to me and once I understand it, I can sign it. The judge became incensed, saying – ‘why? don’t you trust me? Insolent girl, has no one ever taught you any manners?’ I was utterly numb. Had I said something wrong? I said, “no, I do trust you, but I am not able to understand what you have read out”…Then they called Kalyani didi. The judge was still enraged. Kalyani Didi and I apologized to him. Still, nobody was listening to us”, the rape survivor stated.

Displaying shocking insensitivity and callousness, the judge apparently called Khushi “an insolent girl (badtameez ladki), again and again”. Referring to the rape survivior, the judge told Kalyani; “you all have not taught her any manners”. Khushi recalled that the two support workers also tried explaining to the judge that, “if Khushi is not able to understand her statement, it should be read out to her again”. But the judge was impatient with their requests, pointing out to them that he had “so much work”.

The rape survivor stated: “There was so much commotion in that room that we understood that now we would not be heard…Tanmay bhaiya, Kalyani didi, and I kept standing there. They started to take a video of us and we were told that we were obstructing government work, so now we would have to be put in jail. I thought that when I have endured so much, this too then. I was granted bail after 10 days, but those who were standing with me are still in jail. We only wanted justice. We will not stop this fight.”

Despite public outrage over the arrest and imprisonment of the two caregivers, Kalyani and Tanmay have been denied bail. Over 300 lawyers had also written to the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court urging the Court to intervene in the matter. Activists, women’s organisations, and Amnesty International India have demanded the immediate release of the social workers, especially in light of the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.

 

 

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