Long Quest for Justice for Indian Women

The world is celebrating International Women


Selasa, 16 Apr 2013 18:03 WIB

Long Quest for Justice for Indian Women

India Victims, Bismillah Geelani, Rape

The world is celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8.

But in India, women are still fighting for their safety.

The Constitution guarantees equality to all women... but across the country, two women are raped every hour.

32-year-old Jagjit Kaur is on hunger strike for the last month.

She’s lying in a small tent in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar street with dozens of newspapers with her story are scattered in front of her.

She was raped at a police station in Punjab.

“I went to the police station to report a burglary at home. The policemen then offered me a cup of coffee, and then he closed his office door. He tried to undress me. I screamed for help. Then two villagers came to my rescue, but they were beaten and locked up by the police. The officer then raped me and then I came out. The policemen attacked me with batons and fractured my arm. They didn’t stop until I fell unconscious.”

It happened three years ago. But she hasn’t been able to register her complaint.

“I staged sit-ins, filed complaints to the police authorities and local administration, ran around the courts but nothing happened. I even wrote to the Prime Minister and the Central Bureau of Investigation, but to no avail.”

That’s why she’s now here in the capital – to demand justice.

But her protest still hasn’t evoked any response from the government.

“I have been fasting for so long but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. If I can’t get justice from the state government, can’t get justice from the central government, then where will I get justice from? Where is the National Commission for Women? Where is the National Human Rights Commission?” she screams helplessly.

“Do they want me to turn into a terrorist?  If I’m denied justice... it’s either they kill me or I will kill everyone.”

And Kaur is not the only one on a quest for justice. There’s also 55-year-old Saheb Singh who lives in suburb of Delhi.

His 18-year-old daughter was raped in 2009 by a local Municipal Councillor after Shaheb refused to let him marry her. Then earlier this year, the councillor’s men sexually assaulted his wife.

He says the police are not taking any action against the rapists.

“In my wife’s case, the police have registered a case but only in name, because there has been no further investigation. The goons are very influential, they roam freely, they even violently attacked me but the police are doing nothing. We want the government to protect us and suspend the policemen who are betraying us.”

The protests by victims of sexual violence began after last year’s brutal gang rape of a 29-year old student in New Delhi.

The government has since announced more measures to tackle sexual crimes against women. They include the decision to lower the juvenile age from 18 to 16 years and the introduction of the death penalty as a punishment for rape in extreme cases.

Earlier this week, while presenting this year’s budget, the government also announced a special fund for women’s safety and security. Finance Minister P. Chidambaran says it’s called the Nirbhaya Fund.

“We stand in solidarity with our girl and men and we pledge to do everything possible to empower them and to keep them safe and secure,” he says. “A number of initiatives are underway and many more will be taken by the government as well as non-government organisations. These deserve our support.”

But the protesters are not satisfied.

Dozens of them are burning an effigy of the country’s criminal justice system. They shout, ‘the system is dead, that’s why crime is on the rise’.

Raghuveer Sharma has been coming to the protests in Jantar Mantar since December last year. He says enough is enough. “We have suffered a lot because of the system but not anymore. This must change.”

“And unless something concrete is done to change the system we are going to continue our protest. Our protest is not against a government or a particular party. It is against the entire system and unless we achieve our objective nobody can move us from here.”

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