Karnataka HC’s aspersions against rape survivor stir hornet’s nest

South India

The aspersions cast by Karnataka high court on a rape survivor while granting advance bail to the accused have stirred a hornet’s nest.

A section of lawyers and women activists have termed the observations by Justice Krishna S Dix that it was unbecoming of an Indian woman to justify her failure to alert the police or the public against the alleged rape on the ground that she was tired and fell asleep after the perpetration of the act inappropriate.

The observations came on an appeal filed by 27-year-old person against the rejection of his plea for advance bail by a city court against the complaint made by a 42-year-old human resource entrepreneur that he had raped on the false premise of a marriage.

Granting the plea of the accused, the court pointed out that the complainant’s claim that she was raped on the false promise of marriage is a bit difficult to believe at this stage, given the circumstances of the case, especially when she had employed the accused for the past two years or so.

Referring to complainant’s statement that she had been to a hotel for dinner when the accused, having consumed drinks, came and sat in the car, the order said: “…Even if (the version) is assumed to be true, there is no explanation offered for not alerting police or the public about conduct of the petitioner.”

The court also raised questions over her presence in the office at night i.e. at 11 pm and allowing the accused to stay with her till morning after taking liquor along with him. “The explanation offered by the complainant that after perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep is unbecoming of an Indian woman; that is not how our women react when they are ravished,” Justice Dixit’s order said.

A report in the Wire said that the judge made several observations that seemingly did not have anything to do with the allegation. Further, the judge also found no ground to deny the accused advance bail as the victim did not offer any explanation for not alerting the police or the public about the conduct of the petitioner.

This isn’t the first time a court has been questioned for expecting some form of “usual” behaviour from a woman after she is raped. In October 2016, for instance, the Supreme Court acquitted the convicts and disbelieved the woman in a gang rape case for reasons including, “Her conduct during the alleged ordeal is also unlike a victim of forcible rape and betrays [a] somewhat submissive and consensual disposition. From the nature of the exchanges between her and the accused persons as narrated by her, the same are not at all consistent with those of an unwilling, terrified and anguished victim of forcible intercourse, if judged by the normal human conduct.”

At the time, several lawyers said that it was “misguided” of the court to bring up the woman’s actions and behaviour after the alleged incident. “The court clearly thinks there is a certain way you should look after a rape,” lawyer Flavia Agnes told The Wire then. “And this played an important role in their minds. I find that extremely problematic” (with inputs from Wire and Times of India)

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