Amnesty International’s India chapter today released a report highlighting the plight of gangrape survivors of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots and the delay in the trial of these cases. The report, titled ‘Losing Faith: The Muzaffarnagar gangrape survivors’ struggle for justice’, stated that the state government has failed to protect the women from threats and intimidation and has even failed to inform them about the status of their cases.
Speaking on the occasion, activist-lawyer Vrinda Grover, who represented the victims in the Supreme Court, said this is the first case where section 376 (2)(g) (rape during communal or sectarian violence) of the Indian Penal Code has been invoked in the FIR since the law was amended.
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“State machinery is not working in favour of women victims. There was a deliberate design to not allow these cases to move forward. The delay was deliberate and this is an example of institutional complicity…The scenario is changing today as the rape survivor is standing against the wrong and demanding justice…
“According to me, this is the most appropriate time to release the report because we are not here to listen to empty slogans by political parties. This is the time that they act speedily to give women their rights,” she said.
With the Uttar Pradesh elections around the corner, the NGO said the new state government should ensure that those responsible for the crime are brought to justice and the survivors are provided with effective legal assistance and rehabilitation.
“Ensure that the investigations and prosecutions into the gangrape cases are pursued vigorously without undue delay, and those responsible are brought to justice. Investigate reports of threats, intimidation or harassment of survivors or their relatives, and bring suspects to trial.
“Provide survivors effective legal assistance and services, keep them informed of the status of investigations and prosecutions, and address any concerns they may have. Ensure that survivors are provided adequate rehabilitation compensation, and other measures of reparation, and that their economic and social needs are met,” the NGO recommended.
It has also recommended the Centre to enact a robust law to respond to communal violence and a comprehensive victim and witness protection program among others.
Social activists Shabnam Hashmi, Amnesty International India Executive Director Aakar Patel, and Rehana Adeeb, founder of Muzaffarnagar-based NGO Astitva, also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the plight of women in the ongoing trial.