Around 500 activists and residents took the streets in Shillong after a 14-year-old girl was raped allegedly by rebel-turned-MLA Julius Kitbok Dorphang. (HT Photo)
Around 500 activists and residents in Shillong organised a rally on Wednesday, seeking justice for victims of sexual offence. Some of the protestors were wheelchair-bound.
The rally in the city’s Fire Brigade Ground coincided with the fifth day of police custody for rebel-turned-MLA Julius Kitbok Dorphang, as prescribed by a court, after the independent legislator from the Mawhati assembly constituency allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl.
“Meghalaya has become one of the most unsafe places for women and children in India. Often, sexual offenders enjoy political patronage. This rally has been planned to show that people are angry with our leaders,” Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) chief Agnes Kharshiing said. Leaders of opposition regional parties also participated in the rally.
Watch | Rally against rape organised in Shillong
CSWO had planned the rally soon after Dorphang’s arrest and the shadow it cast on Meghalaya home minister HDR Lyngdoh, whose son’s guesthouse’s was allegedly used for the rape.
The victim, who had been homeless, was taken in by Shillong-based Mamoni Parveen and Sandip Biswa as their ‘daughter’. She was then taken to houses, guesthouses and hotels, where she was sexually exploited. After she was rescued by the police, she identified Dorphang from photos as one of those who sexually abused her.
Activists say Dorphang’s arrest might be the tip of the iceberg and a thorough, impartial investigation could reveal the involved of many high-profile people in sex rackets. “Without the involvement of big names, this find of flesh trade cannot flourish,” Kharshiing said.