Karnataka HC Shocker: Indian Women Don’t Sleep After Rape. When Did Our Courts Turn Misogynistic?

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Karnataka HC Shocker: Indian Women Don’t Sleep After Rape. When Did Our Courts Turn Misogynistic?

Illustration: Arati Gujar

When it comes to conduct in daily life, one is tragically used to sexist and misogynistic commentary. Whether it is uncles in WhatsApp groups, news anchors interviewing Sunny Leone or leading politicians talking about a sensitive case, the bar has been set too low. But the Karnataka HC took it to a new low.

However one expects upholders of law and justice across the various courts of India to stand for the righteous thing and bring some sanity to the madness. On that front, the Karnataka HC has been a major let down. While granting a pre-arrest bail to a rape accused, the Karnataka HC noted that it was “unbecoming of an Indian woman to sleep after she is ravished.”

Rakesh B, the 27-year-old accused allegedly raped his 42-year-old employer in May, following which a police complaint was filed. An FIR was registered under Sections 376 (rape), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation), along with Section 66-B of Information Technology Act 2000, reported The Times of India.

“The explanation offered by the complainant that after the perpetration of the act, she was tired and asleep, is unbecoming of an Indian woman. That is not the way our women react when they are ravished,” observed Justice Krishna S Dixit of the Karnataka HC.

Justice Dixit also probed why the complainant had to go to office late at night, also noting that she didn’t “object to consuming drinks” with the accused.

These observations by a judge of the Karnataka HC are highly disturbing. Not merely because of their content but also the fact that they come from one of the more reputed offices in the country. Not only is it shaming a rape survivor, these questions further the already prevalent and unfortunate victim-blaming narrative. That the woman is responsible for the assault, for hanging out late at night, wearing certain types of clothes or drinking and partying with colleagues.

Not only is Karnataka HC’s remark shaming a rape survivor, these questions further the already prevalent and unfortunate victim-blaming narrative.

When the top courts of the country echo the ramblings of a sexist WhatsApp forward, do we have much hope left?

Courts are meant to uphold the law not only in letter but also in spirit. Judges are expected to nudge us towards a more liberal society, and that constitutes progressive judgements and observations.

Such was the case in the judgement on Triple Talaq or striking off section 377. However, in India, it always seems to be a case of  taking one step forward and two steps back. That certainly seems to be the case with this Karnataka HC observation that granted bail to the accused.

The accused has been granted bail on a bond of Rs 1 lakh. He has been barred from leaving jurisdictional limits without permission, and has been asked to report to the police station every second and fourth Saturday of the month.

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