India
18.03.02
Urgent Interventions

India: Torture and sexual exploitation of a 14 year-old Dalit girl

CHILD CONCERN
Case IND 180302.CC
Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
Sexual exploitation
Discrimination

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT was informed by the Asian Human Rights Commission that Km. Bhagwanti (Neetu), a 16-year-old Dalit girl, was abducted, raped, and subjected to forced sexual exploitation for almost two years in the town of Ganganagar, Hanuman Garh district, India.

According to the information received, Km. Bhagwanti (Neetu), the daughter of Sh. Mani Ram of the Meghwal caste, was about 14-years-old when she was abducted from the town of Hanuman Garh by Rohitash and Krishan Godara. She was allegedly raped by the two men at their home. Afterwards, Bhagwanti was given to 70 or more men for sex during a period of approximately two years. She tried to escape but was stopped by a person named Ms. Vimla, who was known for supplying girls to influential and rich people in the area. This woman soon began to supply Bhagwanti to other men in the area. This situation continued until Bhagwanti successfully escaped.

On October 18 2001, Master Jasvihder, a social worker in Hanuman Garh, reported the incident to the Hanuman Garh police. Bhagwanti was then examined by the police and she provided the names of more than 70 people involved in her case. However, according to the information received, the police only identified 22 people as main suspects and arrested merely fifteen of them, including Ms. Vimla, on the 19th and 25th of October 2001. Seven main suspects who are powerful, upper caste people in the area, were allegedly excluded. The case was brought before the local court on January 25 2002 against the fifteen accused. There was no mention of the seven other suspects.

According to the information received, the police tried to weaken the case by destroying evidence under pressure from influential people. The investigation officer, Mr. Jagdhish Chander Bishnoi, was removed from the case, but he is allegedly still pressuring the police not to arrest the remaining seven main suspects who are believed to be from his caste.

OMCT would like to recall that India is a party to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which clearly states that:

Art. 2 (1)
“States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the (…) Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's (…) national, ethnic or social origin (…) or other status”.

Art. 34
“States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;(…)”

Art. 37 (a)
“No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”

Action Requested

Please write to the Indian authorities urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical, psychological, and sexual integrity of all Dalit children, in particular of Km. Bhagwanti (Neetu);
ii. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
iii. guarantee adequate reparation, including physical and psychological recovery, to Km. Bhagwanti (Neetu), and ensure her social reintegration;
iv. ensure that the rights set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child be applied without any discrimination against Dalit children;
v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Addresses

· H.E. President K.R. Narayanan, Office of the President, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi 110 004, INDIA Fax: 91-11-301 7290 / 7824.
· H.E. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India, South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, India-110 011 Fax: 91-11-3019545 / 91-11-3016857; E-mail: indun@undp.org.
· Justice A. N. Varma, Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, Sardar Patel Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi 11001, India, Fax: 91-11-334 0016.

Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of India in your country.

Geneva, 18th March 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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