NEW DELHI – The mother of a British teenager who was raped and left to die on a Goa beach five years ago has blasted India’s “rubbish” legal system over the stalled trial into her daughter’s death.
Scarlett Keeling was only 15 years old when her bruised and half-naked body was found on a beach in the Indian resort state of Goa in February 2008.
Two men were arrested and charged with homicide several weeks after the attack on popular Anjuna beach in Goa state, long a haunt for Western tourists.
But five years on, their trial has come to a standstill and the pair are out on bail in an echo of a wider malaise in the notoriously sluggish Indian justice system.
In an interview, Scarlett’s mother, Fiona MacKeown, expressed her exasperation at the delay, saying she will not be at peace until she has secured justice for the youngster.
“The system is just rubbish,” she said by phone from her home in Devon, in southwest England. “It’s ridiculous that it’s now five years and we are still waiting.”
The delay is another embarrassing example of India’s failure to deliver timely justice for victims of sexual assaults, with anger still smouldering over the deadly gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in December.
In another case, police Friday searched villages in Maharashtra state for suspects in the rape and killing of three young sisters. The three — aged 7, 9 and 11 — were found Feb. 16 in a well in Bhandara district two days after vanishing.
Five years later, MacKeown is back home in Devon, with her remaining children and her “happy, nurturing” daughter never far from her thoughts.
“She loved life, she had so many dreams. She wanted to study art, she wanted to play in a band,” she said.
She buried her daughter only six months ago, when the body was finally returned after years of bureaucratic wrangling.
MacKeown says she watched footage of the antirape protests in India with a sense of hope.
“I think it’s great that the younger generation is standing up and saying they have had enough. All women in India face the threat of this rape culture,” she said.
“My daughter was a victim of this, too, and it’s time to put a stop to it. I won’t be at peace until someone is punished for what they did to her.”