INDIA: Rape As Torture

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Rape as Torture

INDIA: Shrimati Siso


The Human rights of Sikh people living in India's Punjab state are under attack. Thousands have been arrested by Indian police and security forces in Punjab since 1983 when armed Sikh opposition groups first emerged demanding an independent Sikh state in Punjab.

The human rights violations reported from Punjab have taken place in the context of police attempts to counter the widespread and often discriminate violence to which armed Sikh groups have increasingly resorted in their campaign to establish a separate state. Women have often found themselves caught in this struggle: on the one hand, threatened and attacked by armed Sikh groups, and on the other hand, detained and tortured by Indian police and security forces.

Sikh women as well as men, are arrested on the mere suspicion that they are linked to armed secessionist groups. The mothers and sisters, fathers and brothers of suspects have frequently been detained and tortured in order to extract information about their relatives whereabouts or activities. Women have been arrested and tortured simply to deter them from giving food and shelter to Sikh militants.

In addition women in the Punjab have been targets of attack by Sikh secessionist groups either because they disobey orders, or because they are seen as "bad characters." Sikh groups have also imposed penalties on women and men deemed to not have complied with directives related to various matters of public policy and social behavior.

Case Action:

SHRIMATI SISO, a resident of Paili village, complained to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Hoshiapur, on July 25, 1989, that four police officials at Balachaur police station, had illegally detained her and raped her. The officers allegedly involved were the Station House Officer (SHO), the Moharrir Head Constable and two other head Constables, all from their Balachaur police station.

On February 9, 1989 these four police officials came to Shrimati Siso's house and questioned her regarding the whereabouts of her cousin, Hazura Singh. Unable to provide information, she was arrested and taken to Balachaur police station, where she was asked to sign a blank piece of paper. She refused and was then kicked and beaten by the Station House Office and the Moharrir Head Constable. At about midnight on February 9, she claims these two men returned and raped her. Later that same night she said she was raped by the other two Head Constables. She also claimed that the Station House Office threatened to implicate her in a crime or to kill her if she told anyone about the rape. She was released on February 10, 1989.

After her release Shrimati Siso said she was refused a medical examination by the Senior Medical Officers at the Civil Hospitals in Balachaur, because, she thinks, they feared retaliation by the police. On February 13, she complained to the Governor of the Punjab against the four police officers alleged to have raped her. Shrimati Siso and witnesses were summoned to the Punjab Secretariat and the Deputy Superintendent was order to record their statements on July 17, 1989.

Amnesty International does not know the outcome of the investigations. No action is known to have been taken against the police involved, and no case was registered against them.

Action Request:

Write courteously worded letters to the government of India and send copies to the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC; -express your concern about the arbitrary arrest and alleged torture of Shrimati Siso; -express your concern about the extensive reports that women in India are raped by police while in custody. Point out that torture is prohibited by both Indian law and the UN Convention Against Torture and that it is the responsibility of the government to investigate all allegations of torture and to bring those responsible to justice. -ask the government to provide information on why there has apparently been no investigation into the alleged rape and torture of Shrimati Siso.

Appeals to:

P.V. Narasimha Rao, The Prime Minister of India, Office of the Prime Minister, South Block, Gate No. 6, New Delhi 110 011, India

Copies to:

Ambassador Abid Hussain, Embassy of India, 2107 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008

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