Kolkata: The struggle for justice for two rape survivors in Kolkata became worse after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused their case of being fake. "Medical report does not confirm rape. The lady has conceded that her husband is a CPM supporter. The entire thing is staged," Mamata said.
11 months ago, life changed forever for the 32-year-old mother of two. Raped and battered during a train robbery, she didn't just have to battle her injuries and the trauma of rape, but also a Chief Minister who called her a liar even before the facts could emerge.
"I am upset and angry. Instead of standing by my side as a woman, how could she say I was lying? She could have waited and seen if I am lying or not," the survivor said.
Trapped behind the walls she is too scared to go out. The woman who was once a skilled kantha stitch worker, today, doesn't have a job. "I can't go out of my house, I can't go to the market," she said.
Bengal has recorded the highest number of crimes against women in the country. With the woman chief minister of the state underplaying and at times dismissing cases of sexual assault on women, the road to justice often seems even harder.
Another such case was the Park Street rape case. "It wasn't rape, it was a business transaction where there was a misunderstanding," Trinamool Congress leader Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said.
The crude allegations shocked the nation and broke the spirit of the 38-year-old Park Street rape survivor. But Kakoli was only echoing Mamata Banerjee who again dismissed the survivor's rape allegations as another effort to malign her government.
"They don't have any knowledge of what I have been through. Their comments didn't do anything to stop me from fighting the case but the society, part of the society made me miserable. I have also gone through a phase when I have thought of committing suicide," the survivor said.
These survivors say that the biggest assault on their dignity after being brutalised has been by those in power, those who they expected would be on their side.