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IIOJK in focus

Rape survivor in India says HC’s granting bail to accused makes her feel insecure, sidelined

Guwahati, Aug 27 (KMS): India has a rape culture rooted in both its traditional culture and legal system, which blames victims of rape, is sympathetic to perpetrators, and treats women who have been raped as “damaged goods” who then suffer further social discrimination afterwards, and the situation befits the recent decision by Gauhati High Court which granted bail to the accused declaring him future asset for the state.

however, the treatment has left the survivor, a fellow student at IIT Guwahati, feeling “alone” and as if she had been relegated to the “sidelines”.

The third-year IIT student was allegedly raped by Utsav Kadam, her senior in the college, in March this year.

The rape survivor’s statement comes in the backdrop of a Gauhati High Court order granting Kadam bail despite noting that there was “a clear prima facie” case against him. Underlining that investigation in the matter was complete and that continued detention of the accused “may not be necessary”, Justice Ajit Borthakur had said on 13 August that “both the informant/victim girl and the accused are the state’s future assets being talented students pursuing technical courses at the I.I.T., Guwahati, who are young in the age group of 19 to 21 years only”.

Since the bail order has come out, the survivor said that she has been receiving messages and seeing social media posts about how it is justified. “I feel threatened by the fact that the moment he came out, people started thinking he is innocent, just because he got bail. I feel alone, I feel like I’m on the sidelines,” she said.

“IIT doesn’t define you. It gives you an opportunity, but not intelligence,” she added. “Being a student here does not ensure that you will be a future asset. I am also an IITian.”

The alleged rape took place on the night of 28 March, when the survivor, then a second-year student, allegedly remained in an unconscious state outside her hostel for nearly two hours before she was found by other students. According to a report by the institute’s Internal Complaints Committee’s (ICC), she remained critical and was subsequently taken to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, where she received treatment for a week.

“While I was at the hospital, unable to walk, students from my college were sharing my identity. They would call me a pseudo feminist, that I wanted attention and to destroy his (Kadam’s) career,” she told media.

After being released from the hospital, the survivor said she also underwent therapy, with the support of her college authorities. But alleged that was the extent of support she received from them. “I thought the Students Gymkhana Committee (a students union) would stand by me, but they are not.”

The survivor claimed that the alleged rape was preceded by “ragging” by the accused, which she kept ignoring because she alleged “ragging culture is very prevalent in IITs”.

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