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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

I was asked if I mixed with men, bathed daily: Briton

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times  Ahmedabad, September 17, 2009
First Published: 23:42 IST(17/9/2009) | Last Updated: 23:44 IST(17/9/2009)
“I felt humiliated. The questions were designed to degrade me and put my character under doubt,” Kaya Eldridge (23) told Hindustan Times, recollecting her experience at a lower court here earlier this week.

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Eldridge was in court after filing a complaint of molestation against a plumber who had come to fix her shower at her apartment in the city in the last week of August.

A graduate of International Relations from the London School of Economics, the Briton works with a non-governmental organisation based in Ahmedabad.

Apart from the molestation, which she said also “happens in countries like the US and the UK”, it was the humiliating questions she was asked in the Ahmedabad court that she strongly objected to.

Eldridge said the defence lawyer, Sanjay Prajapati, asked her “vague, irrelevant and embarrassing” questions, which intimidated and sought to sully her character.

She was asked if she associated with men, drank liquor and smoked.

She was even asked what time she gets up from bed every day and if she bathed regularly.

The stunned foreigner found that no one in the court tried to stop the proceedings, including the government lawyer who was representing her.

An infuriated Eldridge changed her lawyer and has in a written complaint to the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court sought a judicial enquiry into the matter and close monitoring of the case.

The Bar Council of Gujarat has however stated that such questioning is necessary in cases such as rape and molestation. “We do not have details of the questions asked but under the Evidence Act a lawyer is within his limitations (to ask such questions). For the defence of his client, it sometimes becomes necessary,” Anil C. Kella, executive chairman of Gujarat Bar Council told HT.

The harrowing experience has not changed her Eldridge’s opinions about a country she loves for its diversity.

“I would continue my stay as per my original plans and also return to India in future,” she told Hindustan Times.


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