Hundreds join rally against rape
SHILLONG: Hundreds of people participated in the rally, organised by TUR and CSWO on Wednesday, in protest against the surge in sexual exploitation of minors and women in the State.
The rally started from Fire Brigade and came to the Additional Secretariat parking lot where CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing addressed the gathering.
Referring to case of Marvelene’s Inn, owned by Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh’s family, Kharshiing said, “He (the Minister) should have the moral responsibility to step down. If he does not do so, we will do it for him as it is a government of the people.”
The rights activists resolved to send a letter to Chief Minister Mukul Sangma demanding Lyngdoh’s resignation from the Home Ministry portfolio to ensure an independent inquiry into the rape and trafficking of a 14-year-old.
Reading the letter to the public, TUR member Angela Rangad demanded an independent inquiry into the case as the guest house owned by the immediate family was the place where the minor was trafficked and sexually assaulted twice.
There was a demand that all guest houses and hotels named by the girl as places where she was taken should be immediately shut down.
Demanding that mandatory guidelines and laws regarding safety and security to be followed by all hotels, Rangad said, “Guesthouses, bed and breakfast and home stays should be immediately notified.”
“Tourism and skill development policies of the State that encourage and drive persons towards engaging in activities aimed at sexual exploitation and abuse should be reviewed,” she added.
The trafficking and rape case involving the 14-year-old has opened a can of worms and now the government is under pressure from all quarters to act fast. Nine persons, including an MLA, have been arrested so far.
Guest houses – including Marvelene’s Inn, Lumsohphoh Guest House at Motinagar owned by D.M Lyngwa and a government-run guest house in Ri Bhoi – have come under police lens.
Two more cases of gang rapes, one of a 17-year-old girl and the other of a 13-year-old, on January 1 have also exposed the pathetic state of law and order. In fact, in another rape case in Garo Hills, a police constable was the main accused.
Demand for SCPCR hotline, fast track courts
Protesters were seen carrying placards that read, “Enough is enough, we will tolerate no more,” and “She could be your daughter, you and me, let’s help set them free, stop human trafficking.”
The NGOs voiced a need to come up with a 24×7 hotline number with the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) to lodge complaints on trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The letter to the Chief Minister stated, “The POCSO Act, 2012, along with the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, should be properly invoked to ensure that investigations are carried out in a time-bound manner as prescribed by the law and that anyone interfering in the course of investigation and justice should be made liable be it police or others.”
The activists also demanded fast track/special courts in all the districts to ensure speedy and time-bound justice to the victims of violence and trafficking.
Rangad said, “The government should immediately notify the Internal Complaints Committee/Local Complaints Committee in all offices and districts under the Sexual Harassment Act.”
She indicated that the government should create awareness in schools, colleges and traditional institutions regarding laws on sexual violence and rights of the victims.
Other NGOs were seen at the rally and KHNAM MDC Adelbert Nongrum was also present.