Her rapists were sentenced to life in prison. Now they’re free, and she’s in hiding

Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

Standing in a row outside the gates of Godhra remand center in Gujarat, western India, the 11 middle-aged men could have been mistaken for visiting dignitaries receiving sweets and blessings from local admirers. In reality, they were part of a 2002 Hindu mob who had just been released after serving 14 years of life sentences for one of the most heinous crimes in India’s recent history. Since their release in August – on India’s Independence Day – the men have scattered across the country.

But there’s one person who can never escape the repercussions of the attack 20 years ago – Bilkis Bano, who was just 21 years old and pregnant when she was gang-raped by a mob that killed 14 of her family members, including her 3-year-old daughter.

Bano was too distraught to speak about the men’s release, but issued a statement through her lawyer, saying she hadn’t been consulted about the decision and it had “shaken” her faith in justice. “My sorrow and my wavering faith is not for myself alone but for every woman who is struggling for justice in the courts,” the statement said…..