Justice finally for Unnao rape victim

Justice finally for Unnao rape victim

The conviction of four-time BJP MLA in Uttar Pradesh Kuldip Singh Sengar for raping a minor girl from Unnao in 2017 sends out the rare message that the mighty and the powerful cannot always get away with their crimes. It is rare because not many powerful persons, including MPs and MLAs, have been convicted for crimes against women, in fact for any crimes at all, though many of them have faced such charges and still have cases pending against them. The special CBI court in Delhi that convicted Sengar on Monday may have ensured that justice has finally prevailed in the case, though the family of the victim is disappointed that an accomplice of the MLA has been acquitted. Sengar’s sentence is yet to be pronounced, and other cases against him over an attack on the victim, allegedly organised by him even when he was in jail, are still pending. 

While the message from the case is rare, it is also mixed. It is doubtful if its outcome would have been the same, or whether there would have been a case at all, if the girl and her family had not shown great courage and persistence to pursue it and if the Supreme Court had not intervened in it. The top court took an interest in the case after the victim wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India, and it transferred all the related cases to Delhi. There was no investigation in the case by the UP police, and even the CBI investigation, on the basis of which the conviction has been made, was not flawless. The special court judge found that the investigation “suffered from a patriarchal mindset’’ and was not fair to the survivor and her family members. Many norms which had to be followed in such investigations were not followed. 

The victim and her family had to pay a high price for justice. After she made the complaint against the MLA, her father died in police custody, and her uncle is still in jail. Two of her aunts died, and she and her lawyer were injured in an ‘accident’. She had to threaten to commit suicide outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence to get the case moving and to get the MLA arrested. The MLA still enjoys support in the party. The case caused great public outrage all over the country. Without these factors aiding the case, it may have gone the way of many other crimes against women. Though the laws dealing with rape and other sexual offences have been strengthened, their implementation is poor. The Unnao case underlines this. Sengar’s conviction is only a silver lining on a dark cloud.

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