When a #Woman #Leader Abuses A #Rape Victim
In one such case last week (details below), a woman chief minister, Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, who also happens to be a lawyer, not only ridiculed a rape victim who had the courage to come forward with her complaint, but later this minister admonished the police officers, who due to media pressure continued the investigation and caught the rapists.
Last week, in Calcutta’s Park Street, a woman was taken hostage by a gang of men in a car, on the pretext of giving her a ride home from a pub. She was raped at gunpoint, and brutally battered. She was then dumped on the roadside bloodied. When she went to the police for help they jeered at her. The male police officers joked about going to the pub themselves to find a ‘girlfriend.’ They asked her to demonstrate what positions she was raped in. And they also delayed her medical examination as well as the investigation of the case deliberately. The Chief Minister, a woman, and a lawyer, shamefully stated the victim was lying and just playing politics. One of her other ministers began to openly question what profession she belonged to. Was she a prostitute? They threatened to begin investigating her family — her father’s past and work record for instance. The victim was traumatized. She said she felt victimized all over again.
This horrifying treatment of a rape victim is not a one off — India is the third worst country for rape cases, and most Indian women will not file police complaints for they fear being re-victimized like this victim has been. Many fingers in the civic society have pointed towards this victim, and people have said she should not have got into a car with 5 strange men. Yet, there have been numerous other reported incidents of women being kidnapped by a group of men and gang-raped in India regardless of where and who they are. In 2010 a young Japanese woman, making a Buddhist pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya was gang raped by a group of auto drivers. In 2003, a Swiss diplomat was abducted in a car and gang raped at the high profile venue of the international film festival she was attending in Delhi. In fact, primary investigations show that the 5 men involved in the Kolkata gang-rape case may have done the same to other women in the city. What are the chances that these women will now come forward given the Chief Minister’s hostile response. More over the Chief Minister’s response gives a green signal to other rapists in the city, and to the police to continue with their harassment of victims.
In the last few days the Calcuttta police have made arrests, but the main accused is still free and the Chief Minister has not withdrawn her remarks. Instead, she hauled up the police officers who made an effort to diligently investigate the case and catch the criminals. How many women will feel safe to come out and complaint about rape under this Chief Minister? Only a global outcry now can turn the tide on violence and intimidation against women across India.