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Indian judge dismisses rape charge, blames woman for ‘provocative clothing’

A judge in southern India ruled that a woman wore “provocative” clothing, effectively dismissing her sexual assault complaint, causing public outcry in the country, where violence against women and girls often makes the headlines.

The Kerala state district court judge made the comments last week when granting early bail to a 74-year-old man accused of sexual harassment and assault, according to court documents. He had not been formally charged.

Photographs produced on the man’s bail show the woman wearing “sexual (sic) provocative” dresses, the court order said, adding that, based on the court’s first impression, her complaint “would not be valid” against the accused.

It was also “impossible to believe” that the disabled man could “force” pull the woman onto his lap and “sexually press on her breast,” the court order said.

THE CNN reached out to the man’s lawyer but had no response at the time of publication.

The news has sparked outrage in India, where women face widespread discrimination and allegations of sexual assault are often underreported due to a lack of legal resources and a notoriously slow legal system.

The Chairwoman of the Delhi Women’s Commission, Swati Maliwal, condemned the district judge and urged the Kerala Supreme Court to take up the case.

“When will the mindset that blames victims of sexual abuse change?” she tweeted on Wednesday.

VP Sanu, president of the Student Federation of India, called the judge’s comments “regressive”. “The logic that women invite sexual assault because of their dress is both victim blaming and invoking rape victim stereotypes,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

sexual assault in india

Sexual crimes against women are common in India, but brutal cases of rape and assault are often mishandled by the country’s justice system.

In 2017, a Delhi High Court judge said a man served “the benefit of the doubt” by acquitting him of rape charges, adding that a “weak ‘no’” could still signal willingness on the part of an alleged victim.

In another case in January 2021, a Bombay High Court judge found that a 39-year-old man was not guilty of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl as he had not taken off his clothes, meaning there was no skin contact. the skin.

“Considering the harsh nature of the punishment provided for the offense, in the opinion of this court, more stringent evidence and serious allegations are needed,” the judge said.

Tougher legal reforms for rape were introduced after the brutal gang rape penalties of a medical student in Delhi in 2012 – including speedy courts to move rape cases through the justice system quickly and an amended definition of rape to include anal penetration and oral.

But activists and lawyers say more must be done to protect women.

On Monday, 11 men sentenced to life in prison for the gang rape of a pregnant Muslim woman during the Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 were released into remission, receiving condemnation from the victim’s family, lawyers and politicians.

Source: CNN Brasil

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