Shiney Ahuja, fallen Bollywood star, jailed raping maid
Shiney Ahuja, fallen Bollywood star, jailed raping maid: Bollywood star sentenced to seven years in prison as actor Arshad Warsi accuses Indian courts of ‘targeting actors’
Shiney Ahuja, 38, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a court in Mumbai, India’s commercial and cinematic centre. He had been accused of raping a woman working as a maid, 18 at the time of the offence, in his flat two years ago.
Rape investigations in India rarely result in a trial let alone a conviction. The famous and the powerful also often escape charges or can either intimidate or bribe their way to freedom. “It is very important that people with money and clout don’t get away with it. This is very significant,” said Madhu Kishwar, a respected academic and founder editor of Manushi, a women’s issues magazine.
Although the victim had withdrawn her evidence, the judge relied on earlier statements as well as medical reports, bloodstains on her clothes, traces of semen on a bed and curtains and the fact that the hand of the star was badly scratched to arrive at a guilty verdict. Ahuja, once named by the film media as one of India’s most eligible men, was found not guilty of criminal intimidation of the witness.
Domestic servants, who are often paid less than £50 per month even by the wealthy and have no social protection, rarely approach the police, aware they are likely to lose their jobs if they report any abuse and are unlikely to be taken seriously by law enforcers.
The decision was criticised by another actor, Arshad Warsi. “Murderers, terrorists [and] corrupt politicians [are] walking free [and] Shiney Ahuja gets seven years … Judiciary should stop targeting actors so blatantly,” he posted on Twitter.
Warsi’s comments provoked outraged reactions online.
There have been a series of recent cases of gang rape in Delhi often involving groups of young men from the capital’s hinterland and single women returning from work late at night. Analysts have described the attacks as a clash of two Indias, the new urbanised world of call centres and women living alone and the traditional rural or semi-rural zones, where conservative social codes have been reinforced rather than challenged in recent years.