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Park Street rape 'survivor' - gutsy woman who fought lonely crusade for justice

By Ians English

Kolkata, Dec 10: When the verdict in the Mumbai gang rape came last year, the Park Street rape survivor was "still searching for answers" and waiting patiently for justice to be delivered in her case. For the late outspoken anti-rape campaigner, it incidentally did come on World Human Rights Day.

The mother of two, who was coming out of a Park Street night club, was raped at gun-point inside a moving car and later thrown out in February 2012. In March this year, she died of multiple organ failure after she was diagnosed with encephalitis.


Nearly four years after the crime, three of the five accused were found guilty by a Kolkata court. The other two, including the prime suspect, are absconding.

From February 2012 till her death in March 2015, the 40-year-old Anglo-Indian woman's very visible fight for justice was punctuated with victim-shaming and slander by the West Bengal government.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dubbed the incident "cooked up", evoking huge public outcry and criticism, as if the trauma of the horrific incident wasn't enough.

Another Trinamool Congress leader and former minister Madan Mitra went one step up in attacking the woman.

"She has two children and as far as I know, she is separated from her husband. What was she doing at a night club so late in the night?

"As far as I am concerned, based on the documentary proof that I have, I think it is a fabricated complaint made to extort money," Mitra said.

Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha member Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar too had cast aspersions on the woman's character, describing the incident as a "sex deal gone wrong".

The attack on her seemed to cease. Later on, several of her Facebook photographs were morphed and splashed around social media.

But the fire-brand campaigner refused to hide in the darkness.

She decided to go public about her ordeal and revealed her identity on television in June 2013 as took on the West Bengal government in her search for women's rights and war against gender violence.

A single mother, she also dealt with more than her fair share of character assassination.

Instead of cowering, she walked with her head held high, amid comparisons with the Delhi gang rape victim, and the 'bad victim versus good victim' debate.

Unlike the Delhi gang rape victim, the Park street rape survivor had all the qualifications for being the proverbial bad girl.

She never finished college, was a smoker, used to drink and couldn't hold on to a regular job.

But that didn't deter her from living life to the fullest, a message she passed on to her two children.

Always cheerful and amicable in her public appearances, she was never rebellious growing up, her father disclosed after her death.

She went all out in support of the marginalised and eagerly participated in 'slutwalks' and marches for gender equity.

In the 2014 edition of the Kolkata 'slutwalk', she had told IANS: "We want a humane society where women are respected and not looked down upon."

On March 21 last year, when the Mumbai gang rape verdict came through, she was elated.

"It is amazing that the verdict in the Mumbai case has come through. With prayers in my heart and hope... that is all that keeps me going," she told IANS.

On the delay in her case, she had said: "I don't have all the answers but like the others I am still searching."

It is only fitting that her bid for a humane society comes full circle on World Human Rights Day.


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