Pooja Chaudhuri Chaudhuri
The only fiction I enjoy is in books and movies.
In an order dated September 21, the Bombay High Court rejected an application filed by an accused convicted of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act and Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), citing, “A woman may be having easy virtue but that does not mean that all and sundry can take advantage of this fact. She has right to say no.”
The court sentenced the convict to 10 years imprisonment, in addition to Rs 2,500 fine for raping the minor girl.
The girl’s mother had deserted her and her father, therefore, she was left at the mercy of her aunt. The convict was her uncle and had committed penetrative sexual assault on her repeatedly.
The convict’s lawyer argued that after the alleged crime, the girl was taken to a shelter home where she did not disclose the incident of rape on her. He added that she had two boyfriends with who she had sexual relations.
He concluded by arguing that the convict was the sole earning member of the family, thus needs to be released on bail.
“A woman may be having easy virtue but that does not mean that all and sundry can take advantage of this fact. She has right to say no. Therefore, even if, it is assumed that the victim was having two boyfriends that does not empower the applicant to commit penetrative sexual assault on her. She had not attained consenting age,” the court observed, reported Live Law.
Refuting the argument that the convict was the only earning member of the family, the court also observed, “Unavailability of earning particularly in the family is not a relevant consideration for suspension of sentence.”
The court’s usage of the words ‘easy virtue’ might be controversial because being involved in sexual relationships does not make one ‘immoral’. There is no ‘virtue’ that is good or bad because that benchmark can only be set on an individual level. However, the court’s judgment is commendable as it recognises the importance of a woman’s consent in sex.
This comes after the Delhi HC in a September 25 judgement said, “instances of woman behavior are not unknown that a feeble ‘no’ may mean a ‘yes’”.
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