Monday, February 25, 2013

Church meddled in Suryanelli probe

Admitting a lack of co-ordination among various women’s groups in Kerala in dealing with the sensational Suryanelli sex scandal case, a leading social activist said on Monday that an impartial probe by a sincere police officer could easily ensure justice to the victim.

K. Ajitha, who blamed lack of sensitivity of the judiciary in denying justice to the victim, alleged that the then investigating officer, Sibi Mathews, tried to absolve former central minister and the current deputy chairman of upper house of parliament, PJ Kurien, from the case under pressure from the Church, and not from political circles.

“Sibi Mathews did not try to save other accused, but he was influenced by the Church authorities as he was a believer,” she said.

“We have strong laws to deal any criminal offence, but the political pressure on implementing bodies become a hindrance in providing justice to victims,” she said, dismissing politicisation of the 1996 case that involved around a 16-year-old girl raped by 42 men for 45 days.

Though opposition is focusing on Kurien’s removal from the post, Ajitha said, “for NGOs like Anweshi and others, the case is a challenge on womanhood and fate of women’s movement in Kerala.

“We will continue our fight as long as the victim sticks to her demand for justice. We will not stop our fight on half way, even if the opposition will withdraw.”

The alleged involvement of Kurien, and a few other local Congress leaders, gave a political colour to the case that happened 16 years back.

While 36 accused were found guilty by the trial court, the High Court acquitted all except one sparking an outcry from various non-governmental organisations.

Though it took more than eight years for the Supreme Court to take up the review petition of the girl, she said, “A steadfast approach and maintaining the momentum across the country, I am sure Suryanelli girl will get justice in the end.”

She paid tributes to Delhi gangrape victim who happened to be a catalyst in bringing up thousands of laid up sex abuse cases to the limelight.

About revealing identity of sex abuse victims, Ajitha said, “ Of course the victim can be named if she was no more. In that sense, the central government did big injustice to the Delhi gangrape victim. But the Suryanelli girl’s identity must not be revealed.”
She rubbished accusations of “willingness” from the girl to be “sexually-exploited” and said, “How can she resist the attack when she is drugged and left to hunger? The perpetrators beat her up before each rape. It is a shame to say she contacted her relatives and went to parks and restaurants while she was under the custody of sex racket.”

(Photo by Shamsudhin Moosa)

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