Sexual violence victims can wait years for India's overtaxed crime labs

Forensic experts collect samples from an area where a woman was gang-raped at Birbhum district in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal in January 2014.

Story highlights

  • As of December, there were more than 12,000 DNA samples from sexual assault cases waiting in national forensic science labs
  • This backlog highlights a part of the criminal justice system left untouched by legal reforms

(CNN)On one hot summer night in 2016, Rani went to bed in her hut near the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi.

Normally, she would have slept outside, where a breeze could provide some relief, but she did not feel well and had taken medicine that made her drowsy.
But this meant she didn't notice when her 7-year old daughter, who was sleeping outside with the other children, was taken away.
    By the time she woke up, her daughter had returned, and there was blood everywhere. Four men, one of whom police say was a distant relative, had taken the girl and gang-raped her, she said.
    Rani called the police, who soon arrived and took her and her daughter to the closest hospital. The doctors referred them to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the country's premier medical college and hospital, where a doctor's aide examined the girl and sent her for surgery.
    "Her blood kept on flowing," said Rani, for whom CNN is using a pseudonym because revealing evidence that can identify a rape victim is prohibited by law in India. Her daughter had to undergo surgery for the injuries to her genitalia.
    The aide who examined her daughter did not tell Rani much about what was happening, saying only that the girl needed surgery.