Tag Archive for 'rape'

How a Dalit schoolgirl is negotiating life after a gang rape and a murder

Namita Bhandare in Mint Lounge:

After they had finished raping her, the 15-year-old schoolgirl remembers what the two men in the car told her. “Don’t bother telling anyone. Don’t bother complaining to the police. Nobody cares about a low-caste girl.” Then they added: “Come back to us in 10 days. If you’re not here, we will do to your mother what we’ve done to you.”

Then, they slowed down the car, dropped the girl off, and sped away. It was 6 August 2012.

The girl had earlier that year been promoted to class XI, the first person in her family to get that far. At her school in the village, the Sanskrit teacher remembers her as a “bright” student, not very regular with attendance but someone who made up with enthusiasm when she did show up. When she cleared class X, she was done with the village school. Two years of high school were a short bus ride away from home to the nearest town.

When they grabbed her, she had just got off the bus and was walking the remainder of the short distance to school. It was 9.30 in the morning, she remembers. She hadn’t wanted to go to school that day. Her father, a daily-wage labourer, had already gone off in search of work to the fields nearby and her mother was out on some chores. Her younger sisters and brothers had left for the local school. “My uniform wasn’t washed,” she says. But a neighbour dropped in. “Missing again? This can’t go on. You must go.” More:

Silent Screams: India’s Fight Against Rape

Miditech’s documentary on the Nirbhaya rape, and the fight against rape that followed in its brutal aftermath. Produced for Channel NewsAsia:

Here’s the link :



Our bodies, our selves

Nilanjana S. Roy in The Hindu:

The man who was my abuser was a fine host, a good husband, a caring father, a respected elder whose generosity and kindness were as genuine as the fact of the abuse. These qualities were important, because they helped him conceal the abuse he carried out over a period of four years.

As a much-loved older relative, a close friend of my parents, he had unrestricted access to our house, and we visited him often. It was only at 12 that I began to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t know the term “child sexual abuse,” and had no words with which to describe my discomfort with the “games” he played — but I sensed there was something wrong about the silence that he demanded. When I was 13, I left Delhi for Calcutta, to study in that city, and left my abuser behind. But he didn’t forget, and when I came back to Delhi as a 17-year-old, he was there.

At 17, I knew now that he had no right to do this to me. When he sent poems, said that despite the four decades that separated us, we were supposed to “be together,” I broke my own silence — but only partly. I told my mother and my sister, and they formed a fierce, protective barrier between me and my abuser.

But the man who had started his abuse when I was nine was still invited to my wedding, because we were all keeping secrets, trying to protect one family member or another. (He was married, with grown children of his own.) More:

The Hindu’s fight against rape

and here’s the link to Part 2

Protests over rape case: in pictures

A 23-year-old woman was attacked by six men on a moving bus and brutalized for 45 minutes in Delhi. Protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the growing incidence of rape, and slow and ineffective prosecution.


In this photograph in The Telegraph by Prem Singh, a police officer and a woman protester show each other injuries suffered during the violence in New Delhi.

Click here to see photographs

Why the protests sadden me

Manini Chatterjee in The Telegraph:

Delhi is a difficult city, as harsh and extreme as its weather. It is a city where the most powerful and the most wretched both reside, and in between the two extremes lies a vast, swirling middle class to which I and the protesters laying siege at India Gate belong.

It is our class that defines this city — we can be kind sometimes, but we are mostly callous; we can reach out to others on occasion, but are usually selfish; we witness injustice every day but indifference is our default mode.

But the horrific gang rape of a young woman and the brutal violence inflicted on her and her friend last Sunday night was too much for even this city to take. It triggered something elemental in us, and brought to the fore all the simmering fear and anger, the frustration and helplessness, the sense of isolation and the desire for solidarity that flows subliminally and continually just below the surface of this gargantuan and complex metropolis.

It is only natural, therefore, that the unspeakable brutality of this incident — which took place in south Delhi and not in some nameless slum and to a young couple who were returning home after watching an English movie in a multiplex and not to some villagers in Uttar Pradesh or Haryana — sparked profound outrage among the middle class, and brought the city’s well-heeled onto the streets. More:

A village rape shatters a family’s, and India’s, traditional silence

What the rape of a 16-year-old girl in village Dabra, Haryana, says about India’s changing gender dynamics. Jim Yardley reports for The New York Times.

One after the other, the men raped her. They had dragged the girl into a darkened stone shelter at the edge of the fields, eight men, maybe more, reeking of pesticide and cheap whiskey. They assaulted her for nearly three hours. She was 16 years old.

When it was over, the men threatened to kill her if she told anyone, and for days the girl said nothing. Speaking out would have been difficult, anyway, given the hierarchy of caste. She was poor and a Dalit, the low-caste group once known as untouchables, while most of the attackers were from a higher caste that dominated land and power in the village.

It might have ended there, if not for the videos: her assailants had taken cellphone videos as trophies, and the images began circulating among village men until one was shown to the victim’s father, his family said. Distraught, the father committed suicide on Sept. 18 by drinking pesticide. Infuriated, Dalits demanded justice in the rape case. more

Also read from Tehelka: Haryana, where rapists are considered to be ‘real men’. 

In India, using sex crimes to rein in women

Nilanjana S. Roy in NYT:

On July 9, a teenage girl in Guwahati, in the northeastern state of Assam, stepped out of Club Mint on the crowded G.S. Road after an evening out with her friends. Part of what happened next was recorded by a television crew that arrived on the scene after receiving reports of an assault.

A group of 10, perhaps 15, men surrounded the girl, beating and stripping her for the next 20 minutes. By the time the television crew and the police showed up, the mob had grown to about 40 men. There was an immediate demand by the public that the girl’s attackers be found and prosecuted. After questions were raised about the television station’s recording and broadcasting of the assault footage, two of its reporters resigned on Tuesday.

The widespread anger over the incident — and sympathy for the girl — are genuine, and yet few seem to recall the outcome of a similarly horrific case on New Year’s Eve 2008 in Mumbai. Two women were alleged to have been attacked by 14 men as they left the Marriott Hotel with their friends. When the police arrived, the mob assaulting the women as they lay pinned down on the ground had grown to more than 50 men. In the years since then, victims of such attacks may receive more public support, but not necessarily more justice. The suspects in the 2008 case are free on bail, and the case has yet to be resolved.

Rape and sexual assault are among the fastest-growing reported crimes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Rape also has a plunging conviction rate, with only 26.5 percent of reported rapes successfully prosecuted in 2010. And the response from the authorities across India has been strikingly obtuse. As public anger grew over the Guwahati attack, the police responded by declaring that bars in the city should shut down by 10 p.m. The announcement was widely seen as an attempt to distract attention from their own shortcomings in handling the case. More:

The death of Kali

Samar Halarnkar in Hindustan Times:

First, the moral failures of emerging India. The girl fails every test of the hypocrisy that governs public logic: she goes to a bar; she gets into an argument with some men, possibly shaming a man trying to film her; she walks out alone. The mob outside passes every test of public immorality: on the shamed man’s urging, men – seemingly normal men with jobs and no criminal records – drag the girl by her hair onto the street; many watch, no one intervenes, except for an older man; 20 men join the assault. A journalist at the scene, perhaps the same man who bickered with her, instead of calling the police, calls in a camera crew. The girl is barely home before her trauma is broadcast on television.

Second, the governance failures. The first calls to a local police station go unanswered, and the station house officer is suspended for dereliction of duty but only after national attention. The search for suspects does not get underway after the broadcast of the assault. It starts nearly two days later, after the video goes viral and posters of the assailants appear in Guwahati. Only after the video hits national television do the police chief and a deputy make public statements, deeply insensitive ones (chief – the police are not an ATM machine dispensing instant service; deputy – a “stray incident hyped by the national media”). The government reacts to the outrage with strange, tired logic, ordering a 10 pm shutdown for Guwahati’s 127 bars, never mind that the assault occurred just after 9 pm. To calm the victim, the National Commission of Women (NCW) sends a representative, who promptly reveals the girl’s name. The chief minister does the same, even emailing photos of his meeting with the girl to the media. Later, the NCW chief cautions women to be “careful” of how they dress because “such incidents are a result of blindly aping the West”, and the CM now sees the assault as “a conspiracy” against his government.

We know that India is the land of Sita, Draupadi, Lakshmi and a pantheon of divine sisters. We also know it is no country for women. We point to all the wonderful things that the Gita, the Koran, the Bible and the Granth Sahib say about women. Then we, Indian men, set unwritten limits for our women, and if they do not stay within those limits, we perpetrate the worst abuses against them. Almost any woman is fair game, but if the woman appears independent, confidant and articulate, she must not escape. If Kali – the goddess with the big attitude – lived among us, she would be an especially tempting target. More:

The dark shadow of impunity

Sanjoy Hazarika in The Hindu

For decades, the northeast rightly prided itself on the equality it shows to women compared to many other parts of India, forming part of a “unique” image. The recent incident and others show that the social fabric is not just under stress but is being torn apart, especially in its urban centres, where new trends extolling violence and lawlessness have taken root.

Take the following events: On November 27, 2007, a young Adivasi woman, who was involved in a protest march demanding rights, was stripped and chased in broad daylight through the streets of Guwahati by groups of thugs who filmed her. The media, as in the recent case, also filmed the horror and broadcast it. The leering faces of the perpetrators were captured on camera. There was an outcry then too. The young woman, who was saved by an elderly man who wrapped her in a cloth, was 17 years old at the time. Only three persons were arrested although dozens were involved.

Four major incidents have been reported since then, including the most recent assault on the teenager on July 10. Three of these took place in Guwahati. How many remain unreported one does not know. More:

The rapes will go on

In a two-week long investigation, Abhishek Bhalla and G Vishnu of Tehelka spoke to more than 30 senior cops in the Delhi-NCR region. More than half had shockingly ugly views on rape victims. This is the face of law exposed. How can the system effect justice through men like these?

She asked for it.
It’s all about money.
They have made it a business.
It is consensual most of the time.

This is how policemen — keepers of the law and protectors of innocent — view rape in the Delhi- National Capital Region (NCR). Although generalising is fraught with hazards, this is one generalisation that can be made. There’s evidence to support this.

A month ago, the outrageous apathy of our police towards rape victims was in full display when the Noida Police revealed the identity of a minor girl who was brutally gang-raped in a moving car. If that was not enough, the Noida Superintendent of Police cast aspersions on the girl’s character at a press conference. Besides the fact that, by doing so, the police flagrantly violated the law of the land — Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code defines the disclosure of the identity of rape victims as an offence punishable by up to two years of imprisonment — it also gave a peek into the minds of the police and how they see the raped and the rapist. more

Talking about rape

Tehelka puts together a series of articles that detail India’s attitude towards rape. Nishita Jha speaks to a rape victim on a nightmare that never ends. Brijesh Pandey speaks to a cop on ingrained attitudes and Revati Laul speaks to Deepak Bajpai on the pressures on reporters to dig out the ‘juicy details’.

Tehelka/Samia Singh

Like last week, each time a woman is raped, there is a peculiar kind of ‘us’ and ‘them’ that stories around it take on. As if the 23-year-old girl who worked for a pub in Gurgaon inhabited another universe. In which these things happen. The precise way in which news of the rape is received by a society and the way it is discussed are often a fairly accurate and disturbing gauge of its people and how they think. Why are the conversations around a rape focussed on the victim rather than the perpetrators? Do we care to know anything about the seven men from Rohtak in Haryana? Why is the way a woman dresses important to this discussion? Or questions raised about women being out at night? These are the conversations that do come up. The ones that do not are far more disturbing. For those, turn to Nishita Jha’s conversation with a rape victim who was asked repeatedly in court to describe the number of times she was penetrated and the size of the rapist’s erection. more

Nishita Jha’s conversation with a rape victim

Brijesh Pandey’s conversation with a cop

Revati Laul speaks to Deepak Bajpai on the pressures on media to dig out the ‘juicy bits’

Lawyer Rebecca John talks about a traumatic legal system

‘When you project yourself as a sex object you will be treated like one’

National Commission for Women chairperson on Indian ‘culture’

No justice for a majority of rape victims in India

Taliban cut nursing woman’s breast, asked others to eat pieces

Iftikhar Firdous in The Express Tribune:

Peshawar: Kashmala Bibi* says her cousin’s breasts were cut into pieces when five militants walked into their house and saw the woman breastfeeding her child. One of the insurgents then asked the other women around to eat the pieces.

This is one of the many tales of horror recorded in a report titled “Impact of crisis on women and girls in Fata”.

The report, released by human rights organisation “Khwendo Kor” (Sisters’ Home in Pashto) with financial support from UN-women, is based on case studies of women from the tribal belt living in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s IDP camps.

Women in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are more susceptible to violence and abuse in a post-conflict scenario, whether or not they are part of the conflict, it says.

Another stark revelation made in the report is that women in camps were forced to have sexual intercourse in exchange for food and non-food items. Girls and widows were at greater risk.

The surveys from Nahqai and Jalozai camps further show that women were uncomfortable going to restrooms because there was little privacy as men constantly lurked around.

“A security officer forced me to have sex in exchange for cooking oil and pulses when I was collecting food at the main entrance of the camp,” a 22-year-old woman Nighat* from the Jalozai Camp is quoted as telling the discussion group. More:

An app to fight crimes against women

Nilanjana S. Roy writes in the International Herald Tribune on India’s first women’s emergency mobile phone app, called “FightBack”:

It took a year to develop the FightBack app, which aims to address what many believe to be chronic under-reporting of crimes in the capital. For example, the National Commission for Women, a government agency, has recorded 526 complaints of harassment by women from Delhi so far this year that were not reported to the police, and it noted that complaints of police apathy were common.

The Delhi Police Department has a dedicated Crimes Against Women section, which was set up in 1983, in response to the lack of training among personnel in handling crimes against women, as the former joint commissioner of the police, Kanwaljeet Deol, wrote.

“The sensitiveness of the average police officer when dealing with a harassed and frightened woman left much to be desired,” Ms. Deol wrote in a paper assessing general police conduct in 2005. Six years later, the special section seems to have made a difference, but many women remain reluctant to go to a police station, out of fear of the police or family pressure not to report crimes.

This is where FightBack hopes to make a difference.

“There is an absence of concrete data on crimes against women,” said Mr. Sengupta, who believes that the availability of more information — about the nature of the violence women face and the locations where they are most likely to encounter it — is crucial to changing the situation.

In its first year, the FightBack app will be a paid download, affordable at less than 100 rupees, or about $2, and will be in English, before being rolled out in Hindi and other Indian languages. More:


Married to my rapist

There are places in India where rape is grounds for marriage. Shruti Ravindran in Open magazine:

Zareena Khatun, 19, looks like the sort of lovesick girl that you cast a fond eye over, half-seeing your own early romantic self. She sits outside her house on a straw mat, her knees drawn up to her chin, gazing at the rain with an all-absorbing melancholy. Intrude into her reverie with a question, and she’ll act like she didn’t hear you, chewing absently on a fingernail painted a 90s starlet-maroon. But ask her about the young man in the denim shirt whose framed photo hangs by her bedside, and she’ll say his name softly, blush and look away.

“Newton Patua.” The 22-year-old son of a silk weaver and a student of Bengali in Bolpur College, Newton used to live across the road from Zareena’s home in Jhilli village in Khargram tehsil of West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, and he is now her husband. But their first meeting could not be described as either neighbourly or domestic. “I was sleeping upstairs deep in the night, two years ago,” says Zareena, in a voice with flattened affect, “when he came in through the window of my room, caught hold of my mouth, stuffed it with cloth, and raped me. Then he ran away, and I came down and told my mother what happened.”

“We filed an FIR the next day,” says Zareena’s mother. That’s when the story took an unusual course. After Newton was taken into judicial custody, his parents approached Zareena’s and offered to get the two married. Sitting in on the meeting were two members of Bhalo Manush (literally, Good Men), a select group of worthy locals such as schoolteachers and government servants, who are charged with preserving the honour of Jhilli and the 17 surrounding villages. The Good Men, along with the two sets of parents and the girl’s lawyer, agreed that it would be in everybody’s interest to get the rapist married to his victim. Newton would be spared five to eight years of incarceration, the girl would get married despite no longer being a virgin and her father wouldn’t need to scrape together a dowry, even though the boy was from a better educated family and had well-off relatives, including a schoolmaster brother-in-law, and an uncle who was, Zareena says reverentially, “a doctor in Kolkata”. More:

A Nepali woman’s ordeal in Saudi Arabia

Raped, battered, made pregnant, then kicked out. Lochana Sharma in Asia Sentinel:

Sapana Bishwokarma, 26, has no answer when she is asked about the father of the two-year-old boy who plays beside her. She says her body trembles with fear each time she recalls her son’s father.

“I didn’t know that man very well,” says Bishwokarma, who requested her name be changed. “He used to rape me as many times as he wanted, any given time of the day.”

Bishwokarma, from an eastern Nepal district, moved to Saudi Arabia four years ago as part of an army of millions of economic migrants, to work as what she thought would be a nanny, enticed by an employment agent with the prospect of a good income. She says she paid the agent about US$700 to secure the job. To get around a government ban on working in the Gulf – which was in force when Bishwokarma was seeking employment but was officially lifted last year – she travelled first to neighboring India.

Two men received her at the airport in Saudi Arabia and took her to the house where she would work. Instead of providing child care as promised, Bishwokarma says she was forced to work as a maid. A month into the job, she says her employer’s unmarried son raped her with the help of three other men. “They were a family of three with a middle-aged father and two sons,” she says. “I couldn’t even understand their language, and I was beaten up by the men.”

Eventually, according to her, all the men in the family raped her. In addition to using physical force, she says the sons also drugged her. One of the employer’s sons would give her food when no one was in the house, and she’d become unconscious or sleepy after eating it. When she woke up, she would realize she had been raped again. More:

For Indian rape laws, change is slow to come

Nilanjana S. Roy in IHT:

Should a woman’s sexual experience and history be introduced as evidence in the trial of her accused rapist? Will the Indian legal system ever recognize forced sex between husband and wife as rape? What constitutes the “modesty” of a 10-year-old girl?

A recent report by Human Rights Watch examining the common practice in India of subjecting unmarried women who say they have been raped to what the law calls a “finger test” has reopened a series of questions about the country’s laws governing sexual violence. The report, compiled by Aruna Kashyap, a women’s rights researcher, called for an end to the test, which as the name suggests, involves inserting fingers into the woman to measure “vaginal laxity” and thereby ascertain whether she was “habituated to sex” before the alleged assault.

Although there has been no official response to the report, its findings have provoked widespread outrage in India and elsewhere, with many agreeing that the test is an archaic and scientifically unsupported practice that could exacerbate the trauma of the victim.

In the same week the report was released, less noticed but telling were the routine police reports filed around the country of alleged crimes under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, which makes “outraging the modesty of a woman” a criminal offense. One of the cases that came to trial concerned a teacher who had “outraged the modesty” of a 10-year-old in his care. The euphemism effectively veiled the impact of what had really happened — three separate incidents of sexual assault on a child. More:

The Shopian botch-up

On May 29, 2009, two women disappeared in Shopian district of Kashmir. A day later their bodies were found. They were allegedly raped, and murdered. Muzamil Jameel looks at the shocking case in The Sunday Express:

On the evening of May 29, Neelofar, 22, and her sister-in-law Aasiya, 17, left for their apple orchard across the Rambiyar stream at Nagabal Dehgam, which their family had bought recently. Hoping to return before sundown, Neelofar didn’t take her two-year-old son Suzaine with her. But she never returned.

Neelofar’s husband Shakeel Ahangar launched a desperate search for his wife and sister but drew blank. The wife of one of the neighbours, Ghulam Qadir, had seen the girls leave the orchard but couldn’t say where they went. As the shadows grew darker, Shakeel decided to go to the local police station. A police party accompanied him and started a search across the Rambiyar stream. They looked till 2.30 in the morning before calling off the search till morning.

The following day, when the police along with Shakeel returned to the Rambiyar stream, they found Neelofar’s body. Aasiya’s body was recovered a km downstream. According to the Justice Jan Commission report-the commission was set up by the government to probe the case and was led by a retired High Court judge-the police flouted the procedure they were required to follow, right from the time the bodies were found to when they were identified.

The local police’s initial report suggested that the two women had died by drowning. They didn’t bother to collect the evidence-both circumstantial and forensic-at the spots where the bodies were found. The spots were not scanned for evidence, the clothes of the victims were not secured and, in fact, it was villagers and not the police who brought Aasiya’s body to her home in Bonpore in Shopian. More:

Fashion designer Anand Jon gets 59 years for sex crimes

From Los Angeles Times:

anand_jonCelebrity fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander was sentenced to 59 years to life in prison Monday afternoon for sexually assaulting seven young women and girls he enticed with the promise of modeling jobs.

Alexander, acting as his own attorney, presented a lengthy argument asking for a new trial because of juror and prosecutorial misconduct. He also alleged inadequate defense by his former attorneys. Judge David Wesley denied the request.

Alexander stared ahead blankly as Wesley handed down the sentence. His victims, who were seated in the jury box during sentencing, wept.

Alexander, who was a guest designer on the reality television show “America’s Next Top Model,” was convicted last November of 16 charges of rape, sexual assault and other crimes. Wesley handed down the maximum sentence to Alexander for all but two of those counts, saying he showed no remorse for his actions and posed a danger to other young women. More:

[Image: Anand Jon website]

And below, a 2007 story from the New York Times:

The designer who liked models

So who is Anand Jon? A rapist? Or a mark? To some he is a garden variety arriviste, an overeager cad, who crossed the line into criminal territory when his sense of entitlement overwhelmed his good sense. To others he is a struggling design talent, who played by the same elastic set of rules that govern everything else in the celebrity world and fashion industry – except he was caught.

“We all know that when success comes very young at a very high level, people somehow lose a part of their compass,” said Catherine Saxton, a longtime fashion publicist in New York, whose clients have included Dennis Basso, but not Mr. Jon. “He was flying in a very high crowd and flying in that crowd for quite some time.” On the other hand, “there are a lot of young girls who want to be in fashion, who want to be in shows, who want to be photographed – who want it,” she continued. “It’s very easy to be subverted.”

She added: “He had the sizzle. If you were a wannabe, he was a great coattail to ride on.”

IT was a single sexual encounter, around midnight on March 4, that led to the series of accusations against Mr. Jon. According to the police report and to lawyers involved in the case, the designer had been corresponding on the Internet for months with a petite blond 19-year-old woman in Seattle. She was a lingerie model. He was interested in getting to know her. She sent pictures. He said Los Angeles Fashion Week was coming, and did she want to visit? She did. More:

Does Pakistan have no shame?

Asks Fatima Bhutto in The Daily Beast, reporting on a campaign on intimidation as the government is trying to force rape victim Mukhtaran Mai to drop her case

mukhtaran1In 2002, an illiterate woman named Mukhtaran Mai was punished for something her brother did. He committed the unforgivable crime of falling in love with a young woman outside his tribe. So, in accordance with tribal tradition, a local council of elders decided that instead of punishing him directly, his sister Mai would be gang raped and paraded across her small village of Meerwala half naked.

Five days after this rape occurred, Mai did the unthinkable: She pressed charges.

Her defiance of custom—reporting the rape instead of silently accepting it—made headlines worldwide. Nicholas Kristof and Time magazine championed her case. Glamour magazine declared Mai “Woman of the Year.” But now, the Pakistan government has shown that it holds her in considerably lower esteem.


Scarlett Keeling: What her mother had to see

Andrew Buncombe, The Independent’s Asia correspondent, on his blog Asian (con)Fusion:

Last week, at a cafe in Anjuna Beach that specialises in organic food, the mother of Scarlett Keeling showed me some photographs that I didn’t really want to see.

The photographs were taken during the first post-mortem tests carried out on Scarlett and unlike the written report itself, the photographs revealed the true extent of the teenager’s injuries. The pictures showed a huge bruise above one eye, a series of bruises on her legs and shins, red marks around the genital area and, most shocking of all, a picture of Scarlett’s face.

Because police claimed they did know who she was when her body was found, the pathologists had cut open her face to enable access to her teeth and to take a dental imprint to obtain her identity. They had then crudely sewn it back up. What was left looked like an horrendous, clown-like smile stitched across the teenager’s face.


Who killed Scarlett Keeling?

The man suspected of raping Scarlett Keeling, a 15-year-old British teenager found dead on Goa’s Anjuna beach on February 18, appeared in the local Goa court wearing a police hood. But Scarlett’s mother says she is not at all convinced that Samson D’Souza, the 26-year-old barman who worked at Lui’s Bar and was seen with Scarlett on the day she died, is the right man. She wants the country’s premier investigating agency to take over the case.

Read that story here.

goa.jpgThe case has rocked Indian and British media, following allegations of a police cover-up by Scarlett’s mother, Fiona MacKeown who refused to accept an initial post-mortem report that concluded that her daughter had drowned. Fiona has maintained all along that her daughter had been raped and murdered, pointing to the bruises and cuts on her body.

A second post mortem was ordered and found that Scarlett had indeed died of drowning. Significantly, it didn’t rule out homicide.

Meanwhile, media attention has also focused on Fiona MacKeown who left her 15-year-old daughter behind with the family of the local tour guide she had befriended. Fiona, her boyfriend and six other children headed off to a beach in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, leaving Scarlett behind in Goa. In the Daily Mail, Tom Rawstorne reports that Fiona is clear that she is not to blame

It was meant to be great family adventure – then 15-year-old Scarlett MacKeown was left alone by her mother in Goa. Days later she was dead. Murder… or a drunken accident? Here, her mother insists SHE wasn’t at fault.

As she tearfully retraced her teenage daughter’s last steps, Fiona MacKeown’s eye was caught by an object lying on the edge of the dusty track. It was a leather sandal — nothing special — but its discovery started a chain of events that has sent shockwaves through a part of the world still regarded by some as a corner of paradise.

Fiona knew at once that the shoe belonged to her daughter, 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling, whose body had been found on a nearby beach three days earlier.


And is time running out for ‘tourist paradise’ Goa? Andrew Buncombe in The Morung Express reports from Anjuna

From his vantage point on a cushion in Anjuna’s German Bakery and Café, Thomas Keller smiled nostalgically as he recalled first coming to Goa more than three decades ago. “It was 1974,” said the wiry 53-year-old from Denmark. “[Then] it was serious hard-core hippies. Now everybody can come and go.” And that may be the problem for Goa. When people like Mr Keller first arrived, they came overland, down the hippy trail that wound from Turkey through Iran and Afghanistan to this tiny former Portuguese enclave on India’s western coast. They were few enough in number to blend in among the coastal villages, and if they were in a blissed-out haze on marijuana or hash a lot of the time, nobody minded too much.


Finally, local Goa newspaper Navhind Times pays tribute to Fiona MacKeown in an editorial:

Goa police have started investigations along a new line into the death of the 15-year-old British girl Scarlett Keeling, but the loss that the state government and police – and collectively all of us Goans – have suffered during the three weeks in terms of image cannot be made up, no matter what we do. The adverse publicity we have got has not only damaged tourism but also our reputation as a state that can take up a case in the right earnest – without hiding or suppressing or manipulating facts – and go straight after the accused. How great a gratitude we owe to the mother of Scarlett, Fiona Mackeown! It was her tireless and determined fight for bringing the guilty to book that rocked the international and Indian media and forced the state government to take immediate steps to ensure fair play and justice to the deceased girl and her family.


My struggle will continue: Bilkis Bano

CNN-IBN’s Arunima spoke to Bilkis Bano after a special CBI court sentenced 11 people to life imprisonment for rape

It seems justice may finally have been delivered in one of the most shocking cases of the post Godhra riots. The special CBI court on Monday sentenced 11 people to double life imprisonment for rape in the Bilkis Bano case.

Bilkis says she knows she’s won a landmark judgement, but the battle has only just begun. CNN-IBN’s Arunima spoke to Bilkis after the verdict.

Arunima: Has justice been done?

Bilkis Bano: Justice has been delivered six years later. Eleven people have been sentenced but the policemen involved have gone scot free. So my struggle will continue will they are punished.

Arunima: Was it a lonely battle?

Bilkis Bano: A lot of people helped me. They encouraged me not to give up, not to get scared and continue the fight. Without them I couldn’t have achieved this.

Arunima: Do you feel safe about your child’s future in Gujarat?

Bilkis Bano: I want my children to have proper education, a good upbringing and a peaceful life.


The Bilkis Bano case

Mail Today has a package on the Bilkis Bano rape case, with interviews and comments. Hartosh Singh Bal compares her with Zaheera Shaikh.

The Bilkis Bano case may well become the benchmark for how cases related to the Gujarat riots need to be handled. After the Best Bakery case, Bilkis’ story was perhaps symbolic of the quest for justice in the state. The similarities in the two cases are obvious — a young woman who is the key witness to murder by rioting mobs, and the delay and the frustration of obtaining justice till the Supreme Court intervenes and ensures the case is heard in Mumbai. 

And, this is the report 

Justice came on Friday for Bilkis Yakoob Rasool alias Bilkis Bano — survivor and living reminder of Gujarat’s post-Godhra communal carnage. A sessions court in Mumbai held 13 of the 20 accused, including an assistant police inspector, guilty of gang-raping Bano, who was five-month pregnant then, and murdering 14 members of her family in 2002.