Kathua trial ends, death upheld for repeat rapists, from victim to abuser

The 4 June edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

The Bombay High Court has upheld the Constitutional validity of the death penalty for repeat rapists while hearing a plea from the convicts in the Shakti Mills gang-rape case. Photo: Adam Jones/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Court proceedings in three high-profile cases — the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual assaults, and the Shakti Mills gang-rapes — have captured the media’s attention over the past few days. Other cases that have received national media coverage include the arrest of a madrasa teacher in Kerala for sexually assaulting many children over several years and the ‘lynching’ of an alleged child rapist in Punjab.

Editor’s pick

A 63-year-old madrasa (religious school) teacher from Kottayam, Kerala, who was arrested last week for allegedly sexually abusing many of his young students has claimed that his first crime decades ago was an act of “revenge” — sexually assaulting his own alleged abuser’s daughter. That sexual violence can be self-perpetuating is a point that filmmaker and activist Insia Daruwala made in an interview with NewsTracker’s Shreya Gautam, noting, “There is a correlation between unresolved trauma in boys who have been affected by sexual abuse and violence towards women and children”.

Across India: news since last Tuesday

The verdict in the Kathua case is expected to be delivered on June 10, approximately a year after the trial began. The January 2018 rape and murder of the 8-year-old victim in Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir, caused communal tensions in the area and became the focus of intense media scrutiny. In a detailed update, the Quint described how “both sides are on edge” and that “all eyes will be on 10 June to see how the communities will react to the verdict and which way it will go”.

Another J&K case resurfaced in public memory last week, when the town of Shopian observed a shut-down on the 10th death anniversary of two women who were allegedly raped and murdered in 2009. The case, which remains unsolved, had caused a furor in Kashmir. The women’s relatives have said they have “lost hope for justice”.

In the Muzaffarpur case, which involved the systematic sexual abuse of dozens of girls at a shelter home in Bihar, the Supreme Court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to complete its probe within three months and to ascertain the identities of the “tondwale” (paunchy) and “moochwale” (moustached) “uncles” that the survivors said would arrive to rape them. It is suspected that some victims were also murdered.

Death penalty

Observing that “the offence of rape can be said to be graver than that of murder”, the Bombay High Court has said that the death penalty is justified in the case of repeat offenders. The constitutional validity of Section 376E of the Indian Penal Code, which provides for the death sentence in certain rape cases, had been questioned by the three death row convicts in the Shakti Mills case. In ‘What is Section 376E and how does it affect the Shakti Mills gang rape case?’, the Hindu provided detailed background information on the law.

In another case, the Bombay High Court has set aside the death penalty for a man who was convicted by a lower court for raping and killing a 4-year-old girl. The court accused the police of negligence in its investigation and said that the convict should be released if he is not wanted in any other criminal case, reported the Times of India.

Rape culture

In Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, a 14-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly gang-raped and burnt alive. According to a detailed HuffPost India report, the “UP police appears determined to dismiss [the girl’s death] as a tragic accident” despite indications to the contrary.

A 9-year-old girl who was reportedly raped by a 28-year-old man in her Uttarakhand village was forced to travel in a police jeep beside her rapist soon after she was discharged from hospital. Her parents have said she had to be re-hospitalised since the 100km journey in the jeep was more than she could physically or mentally bear.

In New Delhi, a woman who complained to the police after receiving an abusive phone call, was attacked and molested by the suspect in her home after he found out she had reported him.

Mob ‘justice’

In Jalandhar, Punjab, a man was beaten to death by a mob for raping his 9-year-old neighbour after luring her to his house (according to other news accounts, the victim was 11 and the man broke into her house).

#MeToo

The latest celebrity to get a “clean chit” after #MeToo allegations is filmmaker Vikas Bahal who was found innocent of wrongdoing by an Internal Complaints Committee. This finding also means that he will get directorial credit for the film Super 30.

Read more

This roundup is curated from the RSS feeds of more than 30 English news publications from across India.

See a fuller list of rape and sexual violence cases reported today, and earlier this week.

Use our case filter to read reports on specific cases: #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, #RapeOfMinors, #Muzaffarapur, #PoliticsOfRape (use the dropdown menu in column A).

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