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Labour union seeks rural complaint panels following migrant worker's rape in Kutch

A migrant women workers' demonstration in Gujarat
By Our Representative

A zero number FIR under section 376 and relevant sections of the atrocities Act has been filed in an alleged case of rape of a tribal migrant agriculture worker at a farm in Kutch on September 16 at the Sabarmati Police Station of Ahmedabad. The victim, a resident of the tribal dominated Dahod district in Gujarat, had gone to work with her husband in an agricultural farm in village Ratnaal, Anjar taluka, Kutch district, Gujarat, as a wage share cropper for the whole season.
According to the FIR, the woman was raped on the evening of September 16 by the farm owner, who threatened the victim that he would kill her husband if she reports the incident. The family left the farm immediately. The husband had to sell his smart cell phone for Rs 1,500 to arrange the fare back, said a statement by the Majur Adhikar Manch (MAM), a migrant workers’ union, which came to its aid.
According to MAM, the family spent some agonising days at home wondering what to do. Finally, it gathered courage to inform Man Singh, president of the Dahod unit of the MAM. Singh informed the state office of the union. The victim was taken to the Ahmedabad office, where she was counselled by Mina Jadav, secretary, MAM, and Preetiben, and a social workers with the Labour Research and Action, a labour rights NGO.
While initially the victim was afraid to file a case against the perpetrator who had threatened to kill her husband if the matter was reported, MAM said, keeping in mind the special nature of the case, an MAM legal team consisting of Ashok Parmar and Ramesh Srivastava approached the local police station at Sabarmati.
“The police initially refused to file the FIR. After much pressure from different sections, including the human rights cell of the Gujarat police, a zero number FIR was filed at the Sabarmati police station in early hours of October 6”, the statement noted, pointing out, “Such abuse of tribal migrant agriculture workers by farm owners are common in Gujarat.”
Meanwhile, even as the accused, Rannchhod Ahir, was reportedly detained in Anjar for allegedly raping the woman agricultural worker, MAM demanded that the the Gujarat government should form a local complaints committees in all the areas where migrant agriculture workers are present as provided under the the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place Act (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) 2013.

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