The Kerala High Court passed a verdict for a rape case recently stating that a rape victim's sexual history is immaterial and it will not serve as grounds to absolve the accused. This was held in connection with an incident where a man was accused of raping his own daughter, impregnating her in the process. It also stated that it will not impact the survivor's testimony about the same.
About The Case
In the case called 'Unnikrishnan vs State of Kerala', Justice R Narayana Pisharadi held that a rape victim being habituated to sexual intercourse cannot be held accountable for the accused's non-consensual actions.
Quoted by Bar and Bench, his verdict said, "Even in a case where it is shown that the victim is a girl of easy virtue or a girl habituated to sexual intercourse, it may not be ground to absolve the accused from the charge of rape. Even assuming that the victim is previously accustomed to sexual intercourse, that is not a decisive question. On the contrary, the question which is required to be adjudicated is, did the accused commit rape on the victim on the occasion complained of. It is the accused who is on trial and not the victim."
Further, he added that the rape victim's evidence will not be viewed with suspicion, as that of an accomplice or the accused. This is taken to understand the facts of the case and not to make and judgments beforehand.
The Verdict's Importance
Kerala High Court's latest ruling has got everyone talking. In the patriarchal society we live in, the victim is held 'responsible' for someone's else's actions. From what a woman wears to her sexual history, everything is scrutinised because of what she went through. Therefore, very often, the accused is absolved of his actions because it was the victim who 'asked for it.' Here, people often forget that rape is a nonconsensual act. A victim's sexual agency becomes non-existent in this regard as there is force and coercion involved in the unfortunate act.
In light of this, the recent verdict is a step in the right direction. A victim should not be judged on the basis of her sexual encounters. She has the right to indulge in such consensual activities. It has no bearing on the heinous act and the ruling should be given irrespective of what she does personally. Saying that, there is still a long way to go when it comes to ensuring women safety and changing the mentality. People have to realise that a victim should not be held accountable for such acts because she chose to live her life in a certain way.