Court in India Sets Free Men Who Raped Woman

'How can justice for a woman end like this?' asks victim
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 18, 2022 1:00 PM CDT
Release of Gang Rapists Triggers Outrage in India
Activists shout slogans against the remission of sentence by the government to convicts of a gang rape, in New Delhi, India, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

(Newser) – A Muslim woman who was gang raped while pregnant during India's devastating 2002 religious riots has appealed to the government to rescind its decision to free the 11 men who had been jailed for life for committing the crime. The victim, who is now in her 40s, was brutally gang raped in communal violence in 2002 in the western state of Gujarat, which saw over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed in some of the worst religious riots India has experienced since its independence from Britain in 1947, per the AP. Seven members of the woman's family, including her 3-year-old daughter, were among those killed in the violence.

The 11 men, released on Monday when India celebrated 75 years of independence, were convicted in 2008 of rape, murder, and unlawful assembly. The victim said the decision by the Gujarat state government has left her numb and shaken her faith in justice. "How can justice for a woman end like this? I trusted the highest courts in our land," she said in a statement Wednesday, adding that no authorities reached out to her. "Please undo this harm. Give me back my right to live without fear and in peace." On Thursday, dozens of women, including representatives of the All India Democratic Women's Association, protested against the release of the men in the capital, New Delhi.

Videos on social media showing the men being welcomed with sweets and garlands after their release from prison went viral, triggering outrage. Raj Kumar, additional chief secretary in Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party holds power, said the convicts’ application for remission was granted because they had completed over 14 years in jail. A state government panel made the decision after considering other factors like their age and behavior in prison. Kumar said the men were eligible under a 1992 remission policy that was in effect at the time of their conviction. A newer version adopted in 2014 by the federal government prohibits remission release for those convicted of certain crimes, including rape and murder. (Read more India stories.)

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