The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rape victim slur contested

Sahapur, April 4: Residents here today questioned the remarks made by the district superintendent of police about a gang rape victim, saying they did not know anything that indicated the widow was involved in prostitution.

“I don’t think the girl’s character was ever in question. I have never heard or witnessed anything about it,” said Asit Saha, a grocer and the victim’s next-door neighbour.

Saha said he had vouched for the 17-year-old widow when the district police chief questioned him about her a few days ago.

In a complaint lodged at the Old Malda police station on Sunday, the victim said three men had assaulted her for more than four hours on Saturday night in front of her parents, who had been gagged and bound.

Pankaj Dutta, the superintendent of police, told reporters yesterday that the widow had “serviced” the patrons with “full knowledge” of her parents. He had claimed that the victim’s husband, “unable to bear” his wife’s “amoral” way of life, had committed suicide.

The district police chief had cast aspersions on the victim’s reputation while parading the arrested accused before the media. Dutta said the thugs raped the woman after she refused to “sleep with them” in exchange for money.

Residents today expressed shock and outrage at the police officer’s defamatory remarks, which have already been condemned by women leaders.

Sridam Ghosh, who works at the Malda telephone exchange, said he was taken aback by the degrading comments. “What’s happened to the widow is condemnable. As residents of Sahapur we denounce it,” he said.

Habu Ghosh, another neighbour of the victim, defended the widow. “We have been living here for a long time. We have never heard anything said against the widow or her parents,” he said.

Fearing reprisals, the girl and her parents have fled Sahapur.

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