“Can’t relive the trauma”:SC, restrains media from showing images of Bihar shelter home rape victims

The Supreme Court today restrained the media from showing, even in morphed form, images of the alleged victims of rape and sexual assault at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, observing they cannot be compelled to “relive the trauma” again and again.
The apex court ban in which the media was also asked not to interview the victims came on a day when a state-wide bandh was called by the Left parties in Bihar in protest against the alleged sex abuse at the shelter home run by a state-funded NGO.
Expressing concern over the alleged victims being subjected to media interviews, a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta ordered the ban after taking cognizance of the letter received from one Ranvijay Kumar from Patna regarding the shocking incident.
The court while restraining the media from telecasting or publishing the images of the victims even in morphed form also asked them not to interview the girls.
“They(victims) cannot be compelled to relive the trauma again and again,” the court said, as it issued notices to the Bihar government and the Centre seeking their response on the incident.
“The investigating agency will take assistance of professional counsellors and qualified child psychiatrist in questioning the victims,” it added.
The court then posted the matter for further hearing on August 7.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the centre run by one Brajesh Thakur, the chief of the state-funded NGO.
The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai, to the state’s social welfare department in April.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur on May 31. The probe has now been taken over by the CBI.
In all, sexual abuse of 34 inmates out of 42 was confirmed in their medical examination, while two others who were unwell were yet to undergo medical tests.
The TISS audit report stated that many girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse. A special investigation team was formed to probe the complaints.
The NGO running the shelter home in Muzaffarpur was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani.
Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the local police in connection with the case. (PTI)