RAIPUR: Within hours after her Face Book post "I can only pray that no woman is born in this country," went viral, the young Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer in yet another social media post took on the criminal justice system, describing it as insensitive towards sensitive matters of sexual crimes.
"In my previous post, there was a line about women not being born in the country. I wrote that line in the spur of moment and I regret blaming the country for the fault of individuals. Indeed, I had edited the FB post later", IAS officer Riju Bafna said in her Face Book post late last night.
Through her social media post, reiterated her faith in the institutions of this country and explained the circumstances and the humiliation meted out to her at a court in Seoni in Madhya Pradesh, expressing confidence that the authorities concerned would take appropriate action against all those responsible for it.
Explaining the incident, Riju Bafna said she had appeared before the court of a judicial magistrate on August 1 to record her statement for in connection with an FIR registered against by her against a person named Santosh Chaubey, Ayogya Mitra of MP Human Rights Commission in Seoni district.
"Santosh Chaubey was harassing me by sending indecent messages. I reported that to Bharat Yadav, Collector & DM, Seoni. He immediately wrote about this harassment to MPHRC and Santosh Chaubey was vacated from official responsibilities with immediate effect", she said.
"As a young woman facing the Court for the first time in a sensitive matter of sexual harassment, I realized why women do not want to come out in the open and report sexual harassment cases. The entire experience was horrible and traumatic", the IAS officer said in her post.
"On reaching the Court, I requested the Judicial Magistrate to kindly allow me in camera recording of statement. Even before the Court had decided on my request, an advocate, who happened to be standing there, started screaming at me as to how dare I make such a request. He started using very rude language and said that I might be an IAS officer in my office but this was his Court and he was not leaving", Bafna pointed out.
" I requested him to allow me some privacy, which I sought not as an IAS officer, but as a woman reliving the horrible experience of sexual harassment. This lawyer was not even a party to the case but just a bystander and he still did not allow me my privacy and kept arguing and using rude language", she said
During this entire incident, she claimed, the Judicial Magistrate maintained complete silence. He never decided on whether I could be allowed in camera proceeding. He was a spectator to the abuse I had to face for asserting my dignity and privacy.
"Worse, when I finally recorded my statement, he remarked that I was a young, new recruit on first posting, which was why I had these expectations of privacy and that I would get to know the system and Courts with time and get done away with such demands", she said.
"If this is the state of apathy and insensitivity that a woman with supposedly privileged position of an IAS faces in our Courts, one cannot even imagine the plight of ordinary women seeking justice", Bafna said adding that it is no surprise that crimes against women are increasing and that so many women remain silent in cases of sexual harassment.
"A woman comes to the Court with hopes of justice. She expects an unbiased trial and compassionate treatment. But what I underwent gave me a feeling of re-victimisation. I do not wish to prejudice the decision of the case but I already feel a sense of injustice owing to the lack of sensitive procedure while dealing with this case. I felt belittled and humiliated by being subjected to this kind of ego play", she added.
The IAS officer, through her FB post, requested the authorities concerned to take note of this incident and role of Judicial Magistrate and Advocate and take any necessary action. "I also request sensitize the judges and advocates on the important role they have to play if women have to come forward and seek justice against sexual crimes.", she added.