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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 12:16 GMT
Why Bilkis Bano 'kept on fighting'
Bilkis Bano and her family
Ms Bano said that recent years raising her children have been very tough
A Muslim woman from the Indian state of Gujarat who was gang-raped six years ago has told the BBC about her experience following the conviction of 11 people involved in the crime.

Bilkis Bano, who was six months pregnant at the time, was raped and many of her family - including her three year-old daughter - were killed in the attack by a Hindu mob.

She only survived as her attackers thought they had left her for dead.

Speaking to the BBC World Service's Outlook programme, she said, "God saved me."

Recalling the attack, she said, "they had torn off my clothes... I felt very thirsty and hungry.

"I was petrified that they would spot me and kill me.

"I hid behind a big stone for two days and then came out thinking that if God willed it, I would be safe.

"I then got help from nearby villagers."

Courage to fight

Ms Bano was a key witness during the trial, and it was her evidence that led to the convictions.

What made her case unusual was that she refused to back down after repeated intimidation; it is common in such cases for witnesses to change their evidence.

Ms Bano said that had the support of her husband who encouraged her to see the case through.

Muslim woman prays near her destroyed home after mobs torch Muslim homes in Ahmadabad
Muslim women suffered a spate of attacks in 2002
"My husband stood by me and I got the courage to fight out against this injustice," she said.

"I resolved that I must file a case and keep fighting.

My family and people from my community gave me strength."

Gujarat suffered some of the worst post-partition violence in 2002, where more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed during riots.

The case was moved out of Gujarat, to Mumbai (Bombay), for fear that Ms Bano would not get a fair trial.

"I got lots of threats; loads of people intimidated me," she said.

"But I told to myself that I wouldn't get scared by these threats. I knew I had to fight for justice."

In addition to the 11 attackers who were given life sentences, a policeman received a three-year sentence for falsifying evidence.

But Ms Bano said she is still not completely satisfied.

"Seven people were released because of a lack of evidence," she said. "I find this unacceptable.

"These seven include policemen and doctors who tried to weaken my case.

I want them to get convicted. I will continue to fight."

She added that although she won, she knows her life will never return to how she knew it.

"I remember all that happened to me and my family in that village," she said.

"I can't and don't want to go back to that place."

SEE ALSO
Life sentences over Gujarat riots
21 Jan 08 |  South Asia
Police submit Gujarat riot report
12 Feb 04 |  South Asia

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