Kerala, India: Accused of sexual harassment wore ‘provocative’ clothing, judge rules

A district court judge in Kerala made the comments last week granting early bail to a 74-year-old man accused of sexual harassment and assault. court documents. He was not formally charged.

The photographs submitted with the man’s bail application show a woman wearing a “sexy (sic) provocative” dress, the court order says, adding that, based on the court’s first impression, her complaint “would not… forces” against the accused.

It was also “impossible to believe” that a disabled person could “forcefully” drag a woman onto his lap and “sexually squeeze her breasts,” the court said in the ruling.

CNN contacted the man’s lawyer but received no response as of press time.

The news sparked outrage in India, where women face widespread discrimination and allegations of sexual harassment are often hushed up due to a lack of remedies and a notoriously slow judicial system.

The chairperson of the Delhi Women’s Commission, Swati Maliwal, denounced the district judge and called on the Kerala High Court to hear the case.

“When will the mindset that blames victims of sexual assault change?” she is tweeted Wednesday.
V.P. Sanu, president of the Indian Students Federation, called the judge’s comments “regressive”. “The logic that women provoke sexual violence because of their clothing both blames the victim and invokes rape victim stereotypes,” he said. wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

The problem of sexual violence in India

Sexual crimes against women are widespread in India, but violent cases of rape and assault are often poorly handled by the country’s justice system.
In 2017, a Delhi High Court judge said the man deserved “the benefit of the doubt” by acquitting him of the rape charge, adding that “a weak ‘no'” could still signal readiness on the part of the intended victim.
In another case in January 2021, a Bombay High Court judge ruled that a 39-year-old man was not guilty of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl because he did not remove her clothes, meaning she was not wearing skin. skin contact.

“Given the strict nature of the punishment provided for the crime, in the opinion of this court, stronger evidence and serious charges are needed,” the judge said.

Legal reforms and harsher penalties for rape have been introduced since the brutal gang rape of a medical student in Delhi in 2012, including fast track courts to speed up rape cases through the justice system and a revised definition of rape to include anal and oral penetration. .

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

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

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