Letter to @WomenDeliver to Apologize to The #Suryanelli #Rape Survivor
Thank you to everyone who has supported our petition demanding that the ‘Women Deliver’ organization apologize to the Suryanelli Rape Survivor. Below is a copy of the letter we sent to ‘Women Deliver’ along with the nearly 20,000 signatures.
The petition will stay active online till Women Deliver posts a direct apology to the Suryanelli rape survivor. If you haven’t yet, you can still sign this petition on Change.Org click here/ or on Causes.com click here
To read about the Suryanelli case click here
To read a statement by the Suryanelli survivor click here
To read what activist Arundhati Roy says about the Suryanelli case click here
To: Women Deliver
From: The 50 Million Missing Campaign
Re: Petition Demanding a Direct Apology for the Suryanelli Rape Survivor
We are a global campaign working to end genocidal violence on women in India. This letter is to convey our outrage at your inviting P. J. Kurien, an accused in the high-profile Suryanelli gang rape case in India, as speaker to your 2013 women’s conference, and to submit to you a petition on behalf of 19,572 signatories from around the world, demanding that you release an official and direct apology to the Suryanelli rape survivor.
As outrageous as your invitation of Kurien was, we were further appalled by the insensitivity of the statement you later released, saying you were not aware of what you dismissively refer to as “the controversy.” There was no empathy, no support or direct apology to the victim. This is the kind of language and attitude towards rape victims that women’s groups all over the world are still fighting. It is all the more unacceptable from an organization that claims to be working to empower women.
The Suryanelli victim and her family are from a small village, and have to struggle day to day to survive financially. Despite that, they have shown tremendous courage in continuing their fight for justice for the last 16 years, in the face of various forms of harassment from official quarters and the social segregation that rape victims are subject to in India. She recently asked if the public would have been more supportive of her if she had died like the Delhi gang rape victim (a question that other brutal gang rape survivors in India have also asked), and why she and her family have to tolerate abuse from other sections of society as well (see this). We want her to know that at least women’s rights groups are with her and we will stand by her side till justice is done.
It is therefore that much more important that you release an official statement on your website making a direct apology to the Suryanelli survivor and assuring her of your empathy and support. We have attached with this letter the 19,572 signatures on our petition that was posted on our two sites: Change.org and Causes.com. We have also copied below some of the open comments that were posted on our petitions so you can gauge how people feel about this. Please note that we will keep this petition active till such time you release an apology and make this wrong, right.
We look forward to positive action from you that will be empowering to the Suryanelli survivor and to women survivors of rape and violence the world over.
Open Comments from Supporters of this petition:
J. Aster, UK: Ignorance is no excuse for this outrage. Please do the right thing always
B. Doonan, Spain: It is shocking that this man is giving speeches at all, given the charges against him, but that a group supposedly dedicated to women’s rights (at least, their reproductive rights) should not have been aware of their guest speaker’s background is deeply disappointing and offensive for any victim of rape
W. Bruun, USA: I’m also outraged that this so-called women’s group has not had the decency to have immediately apologize to the victim in the case – another incident of women “slut-shaming” other women?
G. Johnson, UK: This basic decent respect for another human being. This organisation seem to only care about attracting big names to fund their cause not about those they should actually be supporting.
B. Blond, Australia: If a rape victim cannot receive a full and complete apology for trivialising (alebit through ignorance) their rapist’s crime, what right do we have to demand apology from TV hosts and radio interviewers for their insensitivity and offensive treatment of rape victims? That women’s rights groups should set the standard for the treatment of rape and rape victims in public, is beyond basic. As a survivor of rape at the age of 9, I cannot accept Women Delivers weak statement. Controversy is not what happened to the young lady, it was an act of violence that would forever be a part of her and has changed her life forever.
J. Claunch, USA: You should have vetted this person first, but what is done is done. Your statement is not an apology, and the women of India, and of the world, deserve better. And more importantly, his victim deserves better. Please stand up, do the right thing, show your moral fiber, speak out against the attack, show some compassion.
The 50 Million Missing Administrative Committee