The recent spate of violent rapes and sex attacks in India has shocked the world, but it’s been the subsequent reaction of authorities that’s proved just as shocking for many.
A report for tonight’s Dateline on SBS ONE has found that authorities have accused rape victims of fabricating their stories to blame governments for inaction, while on other occasions police have rushed to judgment to avoid criticism of acting too slowly.
Suzette Jordan was gang raped at gunpoint after visiting a nightclub in Kolkata, but she tells Dateline reporter Amos Roberts that she was mocked when she reported it to police.
“The way they questioned me… oh, you were at the nightclub drinking… is beer your favourite drink?” she tells Amos when describing how she as treated.
A Cabinet Minister even accused Suzette of being a prostitute.
“I was raped and I was almost beaten to death, if not beaten I would have been shot to death,” she says. “And I came out a survivor – and I’m telling you I want justice.”
The issue of rape in India was particularly highlighted by the death of a 23-year-old woman who was violently gang raped on a bus in Delhi in December 2012.
Thousands took to the streets in protest and in response Indian lawmakers reformed the laws on sexual violence, including fast track courts and stronger punishments for rapists.
But despite this, reports of sexual assaults against women have risen dramatically and many rape cases have become highly politicised.
In October last year, a 16-year-old girl in Kolkata said she was gang raped. After reporting the crime to police the next morning, she was gang raped again by the same men. Her father complained the police failed to act.
“They tried to hide it from the media and the public,” he tells Amos.
Two months later the girl died in hospital from horrific burns, but acting in haste police charged two men with her murder despite one of them having a strong alibi.
Under fire for her government’s handling of such cases, West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee even stormed out of a TV program after facing tough questions.
Tonight’s Dateline asks if the balance of justice has turned far enough in favour of the victims or even if it could have turned too far.
Click on the audio player to listen to Amos talking with Greg Dyett from SBS World News Radio about his story and use the video tab to watch it in full.