Bilkis Bano: Protests in India over release of gang rapists

Bilkis Bano: Protests in India over release of gang rapists

Protesters in Bangalore, 27 AugustImage source, EPA

Image caption, Protesters gathered in Bangalore, Karnataka

Protests have been held across India against the government’s decision to free 11 men who were jailed for life for the gang rape of a Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano.

Fourteen members of her family were also killed during the religious riots in Gujarat state in 2002.

The men were released after serving 15 years in prison.

Men and women shouted slogans urging the government to reverse the decision to release the rapists.

Indian film star and women’s rights campaigner Shabana Azmi told told AFP news agency in the capital Delhi: “What happened with Bilkis Bano, what happened to her family, we cannot stand and watch this happen to our country. That is why we will all come together and raise our voices.”

“This misogyny and patriarchy has grown so much and has been normalised to the point that, now rape is normal for people,” said Aditi, a student protester.

Separately, more than 100 retired civil servants wrote to the chief justice of India to say the rapists’ release would have a chilling impact on the safety of all women.

The decision to free the convicts on 15 August was announced by the Gujarat government as India celebrated its 75th anniversary of independence.

A video that has since gone viral showed the men lined up outside the Godhra jail while relatives gave them sweets and touched their feet to show respect.

Ms Bano called the decision to free the men “unjust” and said it had “shaken” her faith in justice.

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