By- Rukmini Sen, at http://hillele.org/
In a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, Feminists and women activists accross India have expressed their shock that PJ Kurien has been invited as a lead speaker to the third Global Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from May 28- May 30th 2013. Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker P J Kurien is an accused in the Suryanelli Rape Case and GWD Conference is one of the largest global event of the decade to focus on the health and empowerment of girls and women.
In this letter written and signed by some senior feminists of the country it is stated that “In 1996, in the state of Kerala, a 16-year-old girl was abducted and brutally gang-raped by 42 men over a 40 day period. She was tied up, and transported place to place throughout the state, and raped by various men at various points. When she was finally dumped by the rapists and taken to the hospital the doctors said her groin and private areas were so savaged, and she had bled so much that a few more days and she would be dead!”. The victim, however, found courage and named and identified her rapists. One of them was P J Kurien, who she recognized and identified from a photograph. On September 06, 2000, a special court had found 35 of the men involved guilty and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for varying terms.
The Kerala High Court, however overturned this ruling. It acquitted all 35 convicted rapists and found only one of them guilty of crimes related to the sex trade and sentenced him to a 5- year jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000. “The reason for the acquittal was political pull, especially that of P.J. Kurien, who was a Union Minister and a member of the ruling Congress party”.
In fact, even the witness on whose statement Kurien was later acquitted, has recently admitted that he had actually testified to seeing Kurien in the guest house, around the time the victim was raped there. According to him, the police officer in charge had changed his statement to protect Kurien, with bribes having been given to buy his silence! Furthermore, the only man convicted in the case has also testified that Kurien was in the
guest house at the time of the rape. The testimony comes in spite of pressure being applied by the investigating officer on people not to testify against Kurien! Despite this, the government has refused to remove Kurien from office and re-try his case with the new evidence emerging against him.
Meanwhile, the rape survivor and her family have had to move houses constantly, and continue to be ostracized by society, while facing harassment from various quarters. The harassment increased because the survivor refused to retract Kurien’s name from the list of men who had raped her!
The video top is to understand how the rape survivor and her family have been further victimized over the years
The Feminist groups across the country have condemned the Government of India’s decision to permit PJ Kurien who is a rape accused to leave the country when there is a case against him in order to represent the Indian government at an international conference which is focused on women and girls health issues.
Feminist groups across the country have demanded that Women Deliver should not allow P J Kurien to speak or participate in any of the meetings or platform in the conference. Some of the leading feminists of the country have expressed surprise that “they do not check the credentials of dignitaries invited on a such a prestigious International Forum on the issues of Womens Health”. Women activists of the country have insisted that for future the conference organisers should check if delegates have a background in the subject matter of the conference, in the course of which they would also discover their misdeeds.
Feminists across the country have demanded that Kurien immediately vacates his position of Chairman of Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and development
They have further demanded UNFPA which has sessions wherein ministers, parliamentarians and senior government officials will be speaking on women’s reproductive health and how they can be
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