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18 years after ‘sex scandal’, Kerala woman has to appear in 22 rape cases

The woman was allegedly abducted and raped serially in November 1995.

A Kerala woman who was the victim of an alleged sex scandal when she was a minor 18 years back has been asked to appear for trial in 22 rape cases separately despite appealing for the cases to be clubbed into one so that she could avoid reliving her trauma.

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The woman, who is at the centre of what is known as the Vithura case, is now married and the mother of an infant. She was allegedly abducted and raped serially in November 1995.

On Monday, she did not appear in court in Kottayam, where the trial was due to begin, citing ill health and sought an adjournment. She also appealed to the court to consider 15 of her 22 cases on a single day as the remaining seven are yet to be committed to the trial court.

However, the court turned down her plea saying no one was above the law and could not escape appearing in court. Unlike other sex scandals in the state in which a single case was filed against all the accused, the police split the cases in the Vithura scandal, taking the total to 23. The trial in one case was completed in 2007 and the accused was acquitted.

The trials were delayed because the accused appealed to the high court and Supreme Court. All appeals were rejected. Thirty-five people are accused in the 15 cases in question.

“When the appeal of one accused was turned down, another went in appeal. They moved the court in turns only to delay the process. When a petition was pending in court, naturally other cases were also delayed. The woman had not done anything to delay the trial. Governments did not try to speed up the trial until the Delhi gangrape case,” said lawyer H Subhalekshmi.

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