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Jan 07 2013

Once upon a time in Kerala

Sixteen years ago, in India, there was an extended gang-rape…by 42 men, to be exact, over a period of 40 days.

In the Suryanelli case, a 16-year-old was abducted by a bus conductor who raped her, then passed her onto others, some of who were powerful and well-connected in Kerala at the time.

She was then discarded with no money and in no condition to return home – she couldn’t sit or stand because of her injuries.

And then?

35 people accused of raping her were convicted. But the Kerala High Court, three years later, reversed that decision, holding only one person guilty. The grounds for this verdict were criticised by many people.

Her family and the state prosecutor both appealed to the Supreme Court in 2005 against the High Court’s verdict. Nothing happened after that.

The family survives on her parents’ pensions. The victim was given a job as a peon in a government department but in February, she was arrested and suspended for financial misappropriation.

Now the Supreme Court has decided to hear her case.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    AC

    Just to clarify the last line: the Supreme Court is to hear the appeal against the acquittals for the rape. This Wikipedia article suggests that the ‘financial misappropriation’ case may be a set-up.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suryanelli_rape_case

  2. 2
    Marie-Thérèse O'Loughlin

    It’s the same old default scenario with the parents, who invariably end up being shunned and castigated. It’s as if they were responsible for the heinous acts perpetrated on the victims. “Nobody accepts us; when they see us, they try to avoid us. We don’t go out,” said her father to the media. The daughter was apparently given a government job. It transpired that she was (allegedly) suspended for misappropriation of funds. Does one not smell a rat here?

    It’s so good to read that The Supreme Court is now beginning to hear the Kerala woman’s case, due to the Chief Justice saying, “that fast-track trials are essential for rape cases.” His comments were made as he inaugurated a special court which will hold daily hearings in the case of a 23-year-old medical student who died.

    India’s daughters (and caring men too) are now starting an uprising all over the country because of the rape culture. I hope they create a big stir and keep the momentum up. The attack and death of the medical student have pushed India into demanding improved safety for women and tougher and more effective laws for sexual crimes.

  3. 3
    Marie-Thérèse O'Loughlin

    @AC “financial misappropriation’ case may be a set-up.”

    My comment overlapped with yours. Yeah, it sticks out a mile that it may have been ‘a set-up.’ The young man in the attack and death case of the medical student was asked to show the police in “a good light.” Corruption rules everywhere, but noticeably so in countries that are thoroughly disorganised and backward.

  4. 4
    grumpyoldfart

    It’s never going to change.

  5. 5
    eucliwood

    Holy crap… fucked up.. That’s an entire classroom of people. How is she doing and what’s her name?! I don’t even know how I’d be faring if I went through that. That job in the government could have helped with her spirits but looks like she was suspended from it.. and it’s suspicious (saw the wiki).

    Actually, I looked up what peon means just now, and it doesn’t sound good at all. Sounds like “forced labor.” If that’s the case, I’m glad for her. Unless it so happened that she was finally enjoying it and they suspended her afterwards when they realized it.

  6. 6
    eucliwood

    Just read the part about the parents being shunned by people. Are you fcking serious? If I lived there I’d try to get people who weren’t for shunning them to speak out – if they’re timid at first (Like I would be) perhaps anonymous papers or something, a free site to count the people, so we can say on there “okay, plenty of people dont approve of this shunning… now can we all show that without being afraid to and support the victim?” Might be a farfetch’d plan, but eh!

  7. 7
    davidhart

    Grumpy@4: “It’s never going to change.”

    What are you, the poster child for defeatism? What is there about the current massive outrage and protest against Indian rape culture that makes you so sure that a change in societal attitudes is impossible? See for instance Greta Christina’s post on a campaign in Canada that seems to have provoked some change for the better? To suggest that change is impossible in India is to imply that we shouldn’t even bother trying … and that’s not going to make anything better, is it?

  8. 8
    mi

    This is by no means an isolated incident. Suryanelli is remembered for being the first of many. As for punishing the guilty, this report should give you an idea http://www.mathrubhumi.com/english/story.php?id=112713

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