February 25, 2020
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Kavita Srivastava

The retraction by the Jaipur gangrape victim changes nothing, says the activist

Kavita Srivastava
Is the Mahila Atyachar Virodhi Mandal (a forum of 40 women's groups in Rajasthan) sheepish about fighting for a non-existent rape case?
No. The retraction doesn't take away from the brutal reality of her gangrape last September, or her sexual exploitation for seven years before that.

But doesn't it mean some egg on your face?
Not at all. Even the union home minister has conceded that we have the country's second highest rate of atrocities against women.

But don't such false allegations of rape hurt the women's movement?
The women's movement isn't about a single case, certainly not about one retraction.

Why do you think the victim withdrew her statement?
One can't expect rationality from a girl who has suffered so much. For nine months after her gangrape last September, half the accused roamed free. There were threats too.

How did activists learn about the gangrape?
Her father informed us that she was missing. When we reached her home, with the police, her mother told us of the gangrape.

Was she threatened into retraction by goons?
Let's have the moral courage to face that the second gangrape didn't happen. She may still change her statement. Now, our focus should be on her rehabilitation.

Has the retraction had an impact on her earlier case legally?
No. The police has chargesheeted 23 men for having sexually exploited and gan-graped her for several years in the past.

Will the hype about her changing statements affect other victims?
That would be sad. Especially considering the increasing brutality and incidence of sexual violence. Our efforts shall be to ensure a forum for such victims.

What are your demands in the J.C. Bose case now?
That justice be done. The 12 absconding accused be arrested. And the son-in-law of the MLA, also accused, be listed as a rapist.

What has this controversy taught the state's women activists?
It's a long struggle yet. Earlier we had victims turn hostile in court. Women still face a lot of social pressures. We need a women-friendly police and a sensitive public.

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