World

Female Inmates in Notorious Indian Prison Say Guards Forced Them Into Prostitution

Why would inmates have to work in the prison kitchen at 2am?

Suzette, outspoken rape victim/activist in India.
Photo Credit: via youtube

Mention Parappana Agrahara to someone in India and they’re not likely to assume you're talking about the neighborhood in India’s fourth largest city, Bangalore. Instead, the name will probably bring to mind one of India’s most infamous prisons, which has housed high-profile Indian celebrities and politicians. The prison is an island surrounded by an urban ocean, walled off from the city of Bangalore by monstrous gates and barbed wire fences. For years, the jail has suffered from overcrowding, leading prison officials sometimes to let convicts out early in an attempt to shrink the prison population.

Last week, Indian officials investigating the prison presented a file to the local high court that included two hand-written letters by anonymous female inmates alleging that guards forced them to have sex with male prisoners. According to the letters, the guards charged between 300 and 500 rupees (between $4 and $8) to sleep with the women, a high price considering prison inmates earn about 20 rupees per day making furniture, weaving clothes and doing other odd jobs in the jail.

Investigators discovered the letters inside the grievance boxes in the women’s wing of the prison. The court ordered that an inquiry of the complaints, which will be carried out by the Prisons Department and the Women and Child Welfare Department.

Officials at Parappana Agrahara Prison say that the accusations in the letters are false and an attempt, either by staff or inmates, to defame some of the guards. They say that the allegations would be impossible to carry out given that closed-circuit cameras monitor the entire area.

However, according to the Bangalore Mirror, female prisoners work odd hours, between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., in the prison’s hospital and kitchen. Sources not named by the newspaper suggested that the investigation should scrutinize the work in those areas.

Sexual assault is an incendiary subject in India where rape is the fourth most common crime against women. The country has experienced several large street demonstrations against the government and police for failing to adequately prosecute men accused of rape.

In December 2013, riots broke out throughout India after a 23-year-old girl was gang raped on a bus while traveling home with a friend. The assailants, including the bus driver, allegedly beat the friend and tied him up before raping the girl for over an hour. She later died due to injuries from the assault.

Almost a year later, more demonstrations and riots occurred after a young girl was raped by six men in the Eastern city of Kolkata and then raped again the next day while on her way home from the police station after reporting the assault. Two months later she died in a hospital after being set on fire by her assailants.

The Indian government responded to the public outcry by passing several laws meant to expedite rape trials and extend sentences for those convicted. However, there is still very little trust that local police will investigate allegations of sexual assault and some accuse officers of taking bribes from accused rapists or their families in order to ignore rape accusations.

The distrust in local police has led some families to engage in revenge killings. In one instance, locals caught a man raping a young girl in a warehouse. The crowd reportedly dragged the man outside, cut off his genitals and tossed them into the street.

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, 93 women are raped in India every day, which doesn’t account for unreported rapes. Across the country, reported rapes increased by 35 percent between 2012 and 2013. During the same time period, the number of rapes in Delhi more than doubled, from 585 cases to 1,441.

In his first Independence Day speech as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi addressed the issue of rape in India.

"When we hear about incidents of rape, our heads hang in shame. I want to ask every mother and father, you ask your daughters 'where are you going, who are you going with?' But do you ever ask your sons these questions?” he said. "After all, those who rape are also someone's son.”

 

 

 

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