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18 years later, justice for teen who was raped over 40 days

She was just 16 when she was abducted and then raped in different places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. 18 years after the heinous assault, 24 men were convicted today on charges ranging from rape, outraging the modesty of a woman to abetting the crime. The man who was the ring-leader has been sentenced to life in prison by the Kerala High Court.

The gang-rape survivor told NDTV today, “I am happy and relieved that there has been justice and that people have got to know the truth.” She was raped more than 60 times in hotels, homes and cars. Her attackers included a retired professor, lawyers and businessmen.

In 2005, in a verdict that shocked women’s rights activists, 34 of the 35 suspects were acquitted by the Kerala High Court. The woman challenged that in the Supreme Court, but had to wait eight years for a hearing. In January 2013, the Supreme Court ordered a re-trial of the Suryanelli rape case (the woman belongs to Suryanelli in the Idukki district of Kerala).

Five of the accused died during the trial.

The woman and her parents say that their fight for justice has been a long and lonely one. They shifted base to a different district because they say neighbours were hostile. The rape survivor says she leaves home only to go to work.

She was kidnapped by a bus conductor on her way to school. Dharmarajan, a lawyer in his 40s, convicted for orchestrating her sexual exploitation by other suspects, was sentenced to life in prison today.

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