“My dreams are boundless,” said Bilkis Bano, who has fought for justice against all odds . "My eldest daughter wants to be a lawyer. Perhaps she will appear before the same court some day, to argue for justice to others. This is my prayer.”
How did Bilkis emerge from being a victim of extreme violence to a survivor whose story every Indian needs to know? 19 year old Bilkis was clutching her three-year-old daughter, Saleha, in her arms when one of the men snatched the little girl away and smashed her head to the ground, killing her instantly. Three men, all from her village, grabbed Bilkis and tore away her clothes, even as she pleaded that she was pregnant. In the mayhem around her, the 14 members of her family were raped, molested, and hacked to death by the mob. When Bilkis ultimately lost consciousness, the assailants mistook her for being dead and they left the scene of the carnage. Years later, Bilkis Bano shared that what rankled her the most about her memories from that day was the fact that men she had known since her childhood were the ones who brutalised her so mercilessly. Bilkis was the lone witness and survivor of eight gang-rapes and 14 murders.
Supported by activists and family, Bilkis Bano fought a long, hard battle for justice. This is her story.