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Threats, Delays, No Justice: Tale of Muzaffarnagar Rape Survivors

The report highlights delays in rape trials, threats to rape survivors despite police security & probe lapses. 

Updated
India
4 min read
Threats, Delays, No Justice: Tale of Muzaffarnagar Rape Survivors

Only seven gangrapes were reported after the Muzaffarnagar riots broke out in September 2013. Those riots also killed 60 and displaced tens of thousands from their homes.

It was Muslim women who were targeted and much of their trauma went unreported due to fear of social stigma and reprisal.

This is just part of what Amnesty International India found in its investigation into the riots and their aftermath. The report also traces the survivors’ unending road to justice.

(Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International)

Eventually, seven women came forward to say that they had been raped by men belonging to the Jat community.

Yet, three years on, there has not been a single conviction in any of the cases.
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Delay in Prosecution

It took months to file all these cases and even after that, the trials proceeded at a snail’s pace. Trials in rape cases are to to be finished within two months from filing of the chargesheet according to Section 309 of the IPC, but that was largely ignored.

Even after the police filed charges, which took between 6-14 months, the trials did not commence immediately.

Some rape survivors said they have not received adequate or regular information about the cases from government authorities. Others said they did not attend trials of their cases as they were unaware of the dates of the hearings. Many said they had not even met the government prosecutors who were handling their cases.
(Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International)

Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover spoke about the riots on Thursday, saying that basic procedures like not disclosing the names of survivors or questioning them in closed rooms were not followed.

A survivor is to be questioned behind closed doors when a sensitive matter like rape is discussed, yet the room where their statements were being recorded was open to the public. The files which had their details had to be confidential, but their photos were pasted on their files.
Vrinda Grover, Supreme Court Advocate
(Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International)

Threats and Intimidation

Each of the survivors said they had faced harassment, threats and intimidation from the accused. The threats also continued despite repeated complaints to police and police protection.

The National Commission for Minorities visited Muzaffarnagar in 2014. In three cases, the women named their attackers in FIRs but later retracted their statements in court.

Some admitted to having done so after facing pressure and fearing for the safety of their families.

(Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International)

Inadequacy of Police Protection

Survivors who filed their complaints in September 2013 did not receive immediate protection, even after complaining about the threats.

Even after protection was provided, there were instances of harassment.

The women say they live in fear of the perpetrators, all of whom have been released on bail.

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Flaws in Investigation

India’s laws on sexual violence were amended in March 2013 to include Section 376(2)(g) of the IPC for recognising the offence of rape during communal or sectarian violence.

Yet, when the FIRs were registered in September and October 2013, and February 2014, the section was not invoked despite being applicable.

There were delays in conducting medical examinations and recording the statements of women.

(Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International)
Women went for their medical examinations after two months of the crime. These women are married, so it’s unclear what the examiner would find after this long. The lady doctor conducting the examination told a survivor she did not look like she had been raped, for she was wearing bangles.
Vrinda Grover, Supreme Court Advocate

Lack of Adequate Reparation

Even after suffering enormous damage, the survivors have gotten little reparation for the trauma they faced.

The women were to get reparations of Rs 5,00,000 in addition to benefits within four weeks. Yet, after persistent requests, six of them got it after eight weeks and one got it after over 7 months.

None of them received any additional benefits apart from the compensation given to the families who lost their relatives in the riots.

(Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International)
Reparation is not just money that’s to be given to a survivor. It’s larger than that. They need to get not just effective remedy but rehabilitation and guarantee of non-repetition. 
Vrinda Grover, Supreme Court Advocate
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Read the full report here.

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Topics:  Rape   Muzaffarnagar Riots   Muslim Women 

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