The horrors of reliving one’s sexual assault while narrating it to file a complaint can be torturous for a victim. When it comes to filing an FIR and talking about every minute detail of the incident, it is advisable for the listener to show empathy.
However, this was not exactly the case in Araria, Bihar. A 22-year-gang rape survivor was sent to jail for ‘misbehaviour’ by a court in the state. Allegedly, the victim raised her voice asking for her statement to be reviewed by a social worker before it was officially recorded.
Reportedly, the victim along with two social workers have been charged by the Bihar Court for obstructing their proceedings. All three women are now lodged in a jail in Samastipur, located around 225 km away from Araria in Bihar.
On July 7, the victim who works as a cook and is illiterate, had filed a complaint with Araria women police station. An FIR was registered on July 9, after which she was reportedly called to record her statement before the magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC. She appeared before the court with two social activists from Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan which is an NGO.
When the Magistrate asked the woman to sign her statement, she reportedly showed dissent and insisted that one of the activists should first read it out to her since she couldn’t read.
According to reports, the rape survivor eventually got irritated since she was made to repeat the incident several times to the police. She was also victim-blamed. Not just that, she was made to spend over four hours with one of the accused while waiting in the courtroom corridors.
Now, all three women have been booked under IPC Sections including 353 (assault or criminal force to stop public servant from doing their duty), 180 (refusing to sign his/ her own statement made), along with other charges. They have also been charged with contempt of court.
This FIR lodged against them accuses them of threatening the presiding officer to re-record the victim’s statement and called it an open threat to the judiciary.
The woman’s medical report is still awaited. Meanwhile, the police have arrested one of the five accused in the gangrape case. They said they have no substantial details on the other four.
It is disheartening to see the insensitivity towards these victims of sexual assault. Needless to say, we need better laws to protect women and their integrity in the country.