A high court in Bombay has confirmed the sentences of 11 men convicted in a 2002 gang rape, bringing an end to the survivor’s 15-year legal saga. According to the BBC, the court also convicted five police officers and two doctors, who had previously been acquitted by a trial court, of tampering with evidence.
The survivor, Bilkis Bano, was forced to endure intimidation, institutional corruption, and humiliation throughout the many years she sought to bring her attackers to justice. She told the BBC that she is “very happy” with the court’s decision.
Bano was attacked during the 2002 Gujarat riots, sparked by the deaths of some 60 Hindu pilgrims in a train fire. Believing that Muslims were responsible for the deaths, hordes of Hindus went on a killing rampage. Police, for the most part, looked the other way and more than 1,000 people died — most of them Muslim.
At the time of the riots, Bano was 19 years old, pregnant, and the mother of a 3-year-old daughter. She tried to flee the violence with a group of 17 people, but they were intercepted on their way to another village. Fourteen people — including Bano’s mother and baby daughter — were killed. Bano was brutally raped by men she had known during her childhood.
When Bano reported the attack to police, it marked the beginning of a long fight against corrupt forces of power. “I’m illiterate,” she told the BBC, “so I asked the policemen to read out the complaint once they had written it down, but they refused to do that. They just took my thumb impression and wrote whatever they wanted. I knew all my attackers and I’d named them. But the police did not write down any names.”
Doctors who examined Bano said she had not been raped. Police sought to intimidate her, and deliberately destroyed evidence. But Bano would not be cowed, and continued to speak out against her attackers. Learn more about her story in the video below.
Read the full story at the BBC.