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INDIA: Rape victim and her child auctioned for six rupees in Jharkhand

August 31, 2005

URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

31 August 2005
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UA-153-2005: INDIA: Rape victim and her child auctioned for six rupees in Jharkhand

INDIA: Rape; Slavery; Sale of child and woman
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from reliable sources about the rape of a young woman who was subsequently sold in a public auction on 20 August 2005 in Chirgaon village, Latehar District, Jharkhand for six rupees (13 US cents).

Piary, a tribal woman was sexually abused by four people from her village Chirgaon over the past year. As a result of this Piary soon had a child and demanded that the four villagers accountable for her predicament take responsibility for her child. The village heads first decided that the perpetrators should pay some money to Piary, but when she rejected this, they then decided to auction Piary and her child off.

Piary and her daughter were auctioned off to Somarji with the approval of the villagers who also celebrated this event. An organisation working with tribal women informed the police of this gross violation. However, in the raid that followed all the perpetrators involved in this crime managed to evade the police.

It is alleged, according to an update in the news the next day, that a young man seeing Piary's plight agreed to marry her and adopt her daughter. This apparently met with everyone's approval.

However, in light of the above, please immediately ask the Chief Minister of Jharkhand to ensure that all the perpetrators including the village heads involved in the offences against the victim are arrested. The police need to be vigilant and see that all the laws and processes are in place and firmly implemented so that such incidents do not take place in the future.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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DETAILED INFORMATION:

Name of the victim: Piary Kumari, 19-years-old, and her young daughter
Place of incident: Chirgaon Village, Chandoa Block, Chandoa Police Station, Latehar District, Jharkhand
Alleged perpetrators:
1.Jiban Turi
2.Narhu Jadav
3.Lalbir Mahato
4.Liba
5.Headmen of Chirgaon Village
6.Somarji of Balumath Village

Date of incident: 20 August 2005

Case Details

Piary Kumari, a 19-year-old tribal woman from Chirgaon Village, Jharkhand, was sexually abused by four people from her village over the past year, which resulted in her giving birth to a child. She then appealed to the senior people in her village to ask these four people to take responsibility for her daughter. After a long time, the village heads (Mukhiyas) called a meeting of the villagers and it was decided that the four perpetrators would give Rs 3000 each as a fine and Piary would be asked to leave the village as she had maintained illicit relationships with these men.

However, Piary objected to this and the village heads then decided to have an auction where Piary along with her child would be sold to the highest bidder. On 20 August 2005, an auction was organised and Somarji from Balumath Village (close to Chirgaon Village) bought Piary and her daughter for the sum of Rs six (approximately 13 US cents) amidst a huge celebration in which all the villagers actively participated.

On hearing this appalling incident, a voluntary organisation working with tribal women in Latehar district informed the police who raided Somarji's house. Unfortunately not only he but also the leaders and the four perpetrators who were involved in abusing Piary all managed to escape from their houses.

It is also alleged, according to the newspaper that a young man, Rajesh Lohar also of Balumath village, who was present during the auction agreed to marry Piary and take responsibility of her child. This was met with approval and the village heads also announced that the Rs 12,000 that was collected from the four perpetrators would be handed over to Piary for arranging the marriage.

It is extremely unfortunate that the practice of selling people still exists in remote parts of India. Slavery is a punishable offence under Indian law as much as rape is and participation in an auction where people are being sold is also an offence. This incident very much highlights the backwardness of the state and ignorance of some people.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send a letter to the Chief Minister of Jharkhand asking him to arrest all the perpetrators involved in the crimes.

Sample letter:

Dear Shri Arjun Munda

Re: Rape victim and her child auctioned for six rupees in Jharkhand

Name of the victim: Piary Kumari, age 19 years, and her young daughter
Place of incident: Chirgaon Village, Chandoa Block, Chandoa Police Station, Latehar District, Jharkhand
Alleged perpetrators:
1.Jiban Turi
2.Narhu Jadav
3.Lalbir Mahato
4.Liba
5.Headmen of Chirgaon Village
6.Somarji of Balumath Village

Date of incident: 20 August 2005

I am appalled to hear about the rape of a young woman who was subsequently sold in a public auction on 20 August 2005 in Chirgaon village, Latehar District, Jharkhand for six rupees (13 US cents).

Piary, a tribal woman was sexually abused by four people from her village Chirgaon over the last year. As a result of this Piary soon had a child and demanded that the four villagers accountable for her predicament take responsibility of her child. The village heads first decided that the perpetrators should pay some money to Piary, but when she rejected this, they then decided to auction Piary and her child off.

Piary and her daughter were auctioned off to Somarji amidst approval of the villagers who also celebrated this event. An organisation working with tribal women informed the police of this gross incident and in the raid that followed all the perpetrators involved in this crime managed to evade the police.

It is alleged, according to an update in the news the next day, that a young man seeing Piary's plight agreed to marry her and adopt her daughter which met with everyone's approval.

However, in light of the above, please ensure that all the perpetrators including the village heads involved in the offences against the victim are arrested. The police need to be vigilant and see that all the laws and processes are in place and firmly implemented so that such incidents do not take place in the future.

Yours sincerely,


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SEND A LETTER TO:

1.Shri Arjun Munda
Chief Minister of Jharkhand
Ranchi
Jharkhand
INDIA
Tel: +91-651-22281500/ 22281400

SEND COPIES TO:

1. Justice A.S.Anand
Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhavan, Sansad Marg,
New Delhi - 110001
INDIA
Fax: +91-11-23340016 / 23366537
E-mail: nhrc@ren.nic.in 

2. Mr. Kunwar Singh
Chairman
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
Lok Nayak Bhawan, 5th Floor
New Delhi - 110 003
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2462 4628
Fax: +91 11 2462 4628
Email: mailto:ksingh_chairman.ncst@indiatimes.com

3. Mr. Juan Miguel PETIT
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
c/o Office Of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
8-14 ave de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax: (+41 22) 917 90 06

4. Dr. Yakin Ertürk
The Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
OHCHR-UNOG,
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax:  00 41 22 917 9006
E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org

5. Ms. Carmen María Gallardo
Chairperson
The UN Commission on the Status of Women
United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2 UN Plaza, DC2-12th Floor
New York, NY, 10017
USA
Fax: +1-212-963-3463
Email: daw@un.org


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Program
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-153-2005
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.