By Nusrat Sidiq
Srinagar: The court of Second Additional District and Sessions Judge Srinagar, a fast-track court established on the orders of the High Court in 2013, has neither a woman judge nor a woman public prosecutor, even though most of the cases being heard by the court relate to crimes against women, rape cases constituting nearly 70% of the cases.?
As per the official data at the court situated in Bemina, every month there are 400 cases listed for hearing. Of these, on average 200-300 cases are of rape. Every day on average, 8 rape cases are heard by the court.?The case diary listed for the month of March 2017 shows that for every day of the month, 8-10 cases of the total 15 listed for hearing are of rape.?The women fighting these cases have been demanding a female public prosecutor and a female judge but to no avail.?
A 28-year-old woman who was a victim of rape and is fighting for justice in this court said, “The trauma of rape that we suffered is being revisited upon us with emotional, psychological, and mental torture. We are asked the same questions hundreds of times by male lawyers, which is torturous for us. The pain we went through is impossible to explain to men and for men to understand.”?Most of the victims said they felt stress in speaking of their trauma in front of male lawyers.
A 19-year-old rape victim said, “I can’t explain what happened with me. I feel ashamed when I talk about it with the male prosecutor who is fighting my case. I feel cursed for being born a girl.”?
Another victim, aged 32 years, said that she felt “raped” again and again in the court. “It is horrible. We came here for justice but we are being raped here, once again. We have to stand in the court chamber and prove that what we are saying is true. And this happens again and again.
Before the lawyers, before the judge, before the clerks. Everybody looks at us with a sneering eye and behaves strangely towards us, as if the wrong has been committed by us, not by the culprit,” she said.?
Additional Public Prosecutor Jahanara Shah, who works at a different court, said, “Obviously it is very difficult for a rape victim to speak of the episode with a male, even if it be her father, brother, or lawyer. The case of the woman can be understood better by a female with whom the victim can talk without hesitation.”
Some of the male advocates themselves said that there should be a female prosecutor to represent rape victims. “It is very difficult for the victim to relate her experience to a male advocate. It is not easy for the male advocate also,” an advocate said.
Most of the rape cases being heard in the “fast-track court” are from six or seven years ago. The victims not just wait for justice, but also for dignity while they wait.
By Nusrat Sidiq