Victims' verdict is in: Country's first all-women courts offer hope

FP

Aminur Khatun has made at least 50 trips to the district court in Malda in West Bengal over the last two years in connection with the case against her husband for allegedly torturing her mentally and physically. But for the first time last week, the 20 year-old from the remote village of Ratua shouted and screamed in court as she testified and pleaded her case.

The change was caused by the new surroundings in court, Khatun said. The court has now become the first all-women judicial magistrate's court (JMC) in the country dedicated to deal exclusively with cases of crime against women. And this, Khatun said, gave her the confidence to speak her mind. During the proceedings, the lawyer for her husband tried to question Khatun's character but Khatun fought back.

"This is the first time I have come to a women's court. I could speak freely about what I have been going through since marriage. Starting from the judge to the peon, everyone is a woman like me and I can see they understand my pain," Khatun said as she came out of the court room.

Khatun filed a case of domestic violence and attempt to murder against her husband in 2010. She has alleged that she was married when she was a minor and conceived within three months of the wedding. Her husband wanted her to get Rs 1 lakh from her father if she wanted to have the child. Since her poor father could not afford to pay up, her husband assaulted her physically and sexually and even tried to set her on fire, she alleged.

The additional district and sessions court, which is in the same complex as the JMC and was also converted into an all-women court at the same time, last week began conducting the trial in a case in which a 16-year-old girl from Ratua was abducted and raped in a jute field in June 2009.

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