US woman fumes over her rapist getting bail in India
Jennipha Lauren Nielsen posted a live video on her Facebook page, causing a stir on social media Image Credit: Screenshot/Facebook

A US woman has come out against the “corrupt” Indian legal system for giving bail to a man who was arrested after being accused of sexually molesting her in 2013.

Jennipha-Lauren Nielsen a human rights and gender equality activist, caused a stir on social media after she posted a video on Facebook on July 30.

In the video she questioned the Delhi High Court’s decision to grant bail and suspended the seven-year sentence awarded to him by a trial court. Upset with the high court’s order, the woman went to the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, but posted a video later alleging she was denied any help there.

The video

Jennipha shared a live video on her Facebook page from outside the Consulate General of India in San Francisco. She wrote: “#ConvictedRapist set free #India #WomensRights. My attacker in India was convicted and sentenced for his crime when found guilty. Now due to the pervasive corruption he’s been given bail during his appeal on a crime he was convicted and sentenced for. Again I am denied assistance...”

Narrating her ordeal, Jennipha said she had to travel to India alone to testify in the court. However, now the man was given bail by a “corrupt judge”. She added that she now has to take the case for appeal to the Supreme Court of India. The victim also criticised the “corrupt Indian bureaucracy” as the consulate allegedly told her to get the papers notorised from the Indian consulate in Sacramento, California.

In the video she went on to say: “India’s incredible corruption and lack of support for women that are attacked is continuing. They refuse to help me yet they say that they want to stop the violence against women in their own country... They want me to spend thousands of dollars to travel to the state of California on my own money because they have let a convicted criminal out on bail. We don’t give bail to convicted criminals.”

She went on ask her “desi (from the Indian subcontinent) friends” to help her and ensure that justice was served to her in the case and added: “You do not let convicted criminals off when the victims were brave enough to go and testify. I need your help.”

#NoBailToRapists: Social media reacts

Several people took to social media channels to ask the authorities to help the survivor.

Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal tweeted: “What is wrong is wrong. It’s our duty as citizens of a country we love and respect, to stand up for what is right. Not only does this tarnish India it speaks poorly on how we protect women our own, and those who visit. #NoBailToRapists.”

Indian actor and director Farhan Akhtar also appealed to the authorities on Twitter. He wrote: “An urgent and important appeal. #NoBailToRapists.”

Consulate responds

The Consulate General of India, San Francisco, responded to her in a Facebook video and clarified that all the attestations were provided on the same day itself.

They posted in response to her video: “Our deepest sympathies and our support are with you. As you know, all attestations were provided on the same day (Tuesday) after you spoke to the Consulate officials and we waived the requirements of the Hague Convention that requires apostilling (verification) of legal documents. We hope that you obtain the justice you seek and deserve at the earliest.”

The case

According to media reports, in 2013, Delhi resident Rajiv Panwar allegedly sexually assaulted the US national who was staying as a tenant in his house in South Delhi with her husband.

Rajeev Panwar is the nephew of former Delhi mayor Jayshree Panwar. He was arrested in 2013 for the alleged offence committed in his flat rented to the visitors.

According to Indian news magazine, The Week: “Panwar has been held guilty of digital rape of the US woman and was sentenced for a seven year imprisonment by a Delhi court in February 2019. The court had observed that the victim’s testimony could not be said to be unreliable as she came all the way from her country to depose in the case.

When someone rapes a person using their finger or fingers it is termed as digital rape.”

According to news website “Panwar challenged the trial court’s verdict in the high court which, on July 5, granted him bail on furnishing a personal bond of ₹25,000 (Dh1,318).”