"Give Me Back My Right To Live Without Fear And In Peace": Bilkis Bano
Bilkis Banno, the victim of one the most horrendous rapes during 2002 Gujarat Riots, said that her faith in justice has been “shaken” by the release. She spoke for the first time since being released two days ago and expressed a feeling of hurt and betrayal. She stated that it has made her feel “numb” as well as “bereft for words”.
“How is justice possible for women to be treated like this?” The highest courts of our country were my trust. “I trusted the system and was slowly learning to cope with my trauma…My sorrow and my waning faith are not only for me but also for all women who fight for justice in court,” she said. Her struggle for justice lasted 18 years.
In her short statement, she also expressed shock at Gujarat government’s sudden decision to release convicts in a manner that was not approved by her. She said, “No one inquired about me safety and well-being prior to taking such an unjust and large-scale decision.”
The request also included a request to the Gujarat government. I ask you to give me back my freedom and right to live in safety. “Please ensure my family is safe,” read the statement.
Shobha, Shobha Gupta’s lawyer had said to Bibarud that safety was a concern of the woman ever since the rapists got out. Before the men were sentenced she spent many years hiding and shifting homes, changing her home every day. She has not been able to think of the next steps after the release.