Persecuted for Testifying against Gang Rape of Female Army Officer by Co-officers

Feb 11, 2014 Chennai

women indian armyIn October 1992, Captain Latha Sharma of the Indian army had reported to her senior officers that she witnessed the custodial gang rape of another woman officer by other officers in the Military Hospital in  Secunderabad.  However the evidence was tampered with and it was claimed that the rape did not take place. When Captain Sharma filed a complaint against them, the two officials colluded with the local police and started harassing her.

The Army set up a court of inquiry in February 1993 based on the complaint. But Sharma later moved the Andhra Pradesh high court seeking that the directions to set aside court of inquiry proceedings. She said it had flouted Army rules and did not allow her to make a representation or produce witnesses. Instead, she said, senior officers made attempts to “tarnish her reputation and character”.

Sharma was dismissed from the army and continued her fight through the courts for the next 17 years.  Finally the Chennai bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal has now reinstated her after concluding that the order to discharge her was “illegal” and “vitiated by fraud and suppression of facts”.

The Indian military is under increasing human rights scrutiny for escalating sexual violence and rapes against civilian women in Kashmir and in the North Eastern states of India where there is a heavy presence of the army.  The question is how many custodial rapes like this one, take place within the armed forces of female officers and cadets and are systematically suppressed?



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