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India rape victim poisons herself in front of judge

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After waiting nearly six years for the men who raped her to be brought to court, a young Indian woman swallowed poison in an Ahmedabad courtroom.

The Times of India said the magistrate appeared helpless as the woman, whose name was not released, first slapped a constable.

The world has been watching how India handles rape cases since the brutal murder and rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey.

So far, all that India seems to have done for its one rape victim every 20 minutes is to keep their names confidential. Feminists say keeping names secret hurts victims by shaming them. And as in the case of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a physical therapy student, court proceedings have been held behind closed doors. A magistrate ruled there would be no media admitted, and he issued a gag order in case some reporters found out what happened inside.

In the latest incident, the Times of India said when the victim found out the case would be adjourned again she swallowed a bottle of pesticide. She was rushed to a hospital, forced to vomit, and survived.

Her narrative seems like Leo Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace,” that seems to go on forever.

The Times said the case of the now-30-year-old woman began April 6, 2007, when she was raped by factory owner Mahesh Vaishnav, and three co-workers. A few minutes earlier other co-workers had spiked her tea with an equivalent of a date rape drug like Ketamine, which increases sexual arousal without the victim knowing what happened.

Her family initially feared they would be sued for defamation if they reported the incident. But when their daughter tried to commit suicide they went to police Aug. 14, 2007. The family says nothing happened.

The family filed more complaints, Oct. 30, 2007 and Feb. 22, 2008. Ten months later the police filed a summary report blaming the girl, saying she was in love with the factory owner.

This brought action from the court system, which refused to accept the police report and ordered a fresh investigation and the introduction into evidence of medical records.

Even now, three years after the court order the alleged rapists remain free.

“None of the accused persons has been summoned by the court, and my daughter has not been able to come out of that trauma,” the Times of India reported her father saying this year.

The story parallels the plot of the famous Hindi movie, “Damini,” in which a wealthy Indian woman is treated as if she is mentally unstable after she reports witnessing a rape that her rich family wants to cover up.

Once again, many blame the delays on an overwhelmed justice system, but at this point it seems just as likely that the legal system does not not want to prosecute rapists.


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