• Deepika Rajawat. (Twitter )Source: Twitter
A picture of an Indian lawyer representing a child rape victim defiantly donning her court garb in the face of threats, has captured the imagination of Twitter users.
By
Sarah Malik

18 Apr 2018 - 2:56 PM  UPDATED 18 Apr 2018 - 3:06 PM

Meet Deepika Rajawat. 

She's the gun Indian lawyer who, despite threats to her own life, is representing a slain eight-year-old rape victim -  in a case that has horrified the country and made international headlines. 

Rajawat who is pictured defiantly donning her court garb and getting ready for battle, has captured the imagination of Twitter users, with some posting admiration for the female lawyer on social media. 

Rajawat represents the family of Asifa Bano, a young girl from a nomadic Muslim community in the contested state of Jammu and Kashmir, in northern India who was found raped and murdered in a forest in January. 

Police say a group of Hindu men took Asifa to a forest, locked her in a Hindu temple and attacked her, in an attempt to force the nomadic community out of the area. 

Rajawat told Indian television her fears in covering the case and the challenges faced in pursuing justice for Asifa, including intimidation and threats to her life. 

"I don't know how long I will be alive. I can be raped...My modesty can be outraged. I can be killed. I can be damaged. I was threatened yesterday that 'we will not forgive you'. I am going to tell the Supreme Court tomorrow that I am in danger," Rajawat said on Saturday. 

Rajawat's positioning reflects the huge challenges faced by those working for women's justice in developing countries where poor women and girls are often collateral damage within a state apparatus struggling against corruption, gender based-violence and religious tension. 

The case has stirred communal tensions in the country, and fierce protests against the authority's lackadaisical responses to sexual violence in India.

In 2012, the issue of endemic sexual violence against women in India came to the fore, after a 23-year-old medical student died after being gang raped on a bus in Delhi, sparking a debate on women's safety in the street.  

Australian artists, including writer Roanna Gonsalves have launched a petition  directed to Australia's High Commissioner to India expressing concern over the rise of hate crimes against minorities since 2014, under the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Narendra Modi. 

"The abuse of women and minors as fodder in these hate crimes, of using rape as a weapon of war against its own citizens, of engaging in overt and covert intimidation against those who dare to speak out, is the all-too-common face of the dastardly campaigns that seek to obliterate the existence of, and engage in a sustained drive against, Muslims and other minorities in India," the petition read. 

In a world where victimised women are the face of a complicated country - it's female champions like Rajawat who are changing the game, with an unswerving commitment to justice for women. 

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