Rape Victim Bilkis Bano Hails Victory for Muslims as Hindu Assailants are Jailed for Life

January 23, 2008

Author: Jeremy Page

Source: The Times


At 21, Bilkis Bano was living quietly as the pregnant, uneducated wife of a Muslim cattle trader. Then a Hindu mob gang-raped her and burnt 13 relatives alive.

Six years on, the frail, softly spoken mother has become a symbol of courage for Muslims and women across India after battling the system to bring her attackers to justice.

A special court in Bombay sentenced 11 Hindu men to life in prison this week for their roles in Ms Banu’s ordeal – one of the most notorious atrocities of the antiMuslim riots that engulfed the western state of Gujarat in 2002.

The court also jailed a policeman for three years for falsifying evidence at the trial, which is seen as a test case for thousands of other victims of the riots – especially those who were raped. It refrained from using the death penalty and acquitted seven others, including five policemen accused of destroying evidence by burying Ms Bano’s relatives with salt to make their bodies decompose faster.