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Habitual Victim-Blaming

Posted: February 16, 2014

I was reading the Readers’ Digest, February 2014 issue, in which I chanced upon an article by one Rajiv Wagh, a lawyer practising in the Bombay High Court, and who was earlier a journalist with the Times of India. The article is titled A New Draconian Law and talks about the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 relating to the post-Nirbhaya changes in rape and sexual assault law. (Editor’s note: The piece doesn’t appear to be available online).

The writer-lawyer admits that India is a country where women are at the receiving end of unwanted male attention and that crimes against women are rampant. He talks of the Gopal Kanda-Geetika Sharma case, the Nirbhaya case, etc, but then says that maybe Dr. Farooq Abdullah is right that in the post Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 scenario, men will be genuinely scared of even hiring women for their offices. In the same breath he says that if the rules that saw the exit of iGATE CEO Phaneesh Murthy in the US became applicable in India, there will be a spate of exits from different positions of power.

yes-to-consentTowards the end of the article the writer-lawyer’s confusion completely gets the better of him, and I quote, “There is no doubt that the Criminal Law Act as amended last year is draconian to say the least…Consent given in a state of inebriation may not amount to valid consent…Lack of physical violence is no defence that there was consentNow, an accused cannot rely upon evidence to show that the “accuser” woman had freely mingled with men in the past and that she had only done the same with him…”

But then he is only a lawyer. I had written an earlier post- much before the gruesome Nirbhaya episode, Section 000, Indian Penal Code: Attempt to Rape in which I had pointed out some pathetically narrow judicial pronouncements by judges, such as, “If a woman meekly submits to sexual intercourse it would be a case of consent…”; [State of Maharashtra v. Suresh Nivrutti Bhusare, (1997) 2 Crimes 257 (Bom)].

More recently, Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhatt, presiding over a fast-track court set up to expedite cases of sexual offences against women in Dwarka, New Delhi, said, “Girls are morally and socially bound not to indulge in sexual intercourse before a proper marriage, and if they do so, it would be to their peril and they cannot be heard crying later that it was rape…The girls in such cases are mostly … mature enough to understand the consequences of their acts and not so numb to get carried away…they voluntarily elope with their lovers… and on return to their homes, they conveniently fabricate the story of kidnap and rape in order to escape harsh treatment from parents…”

Getting back to the article in the Readers’ Digest, and if I have understood the quoted part correctly, pre-Nirbhaya, men had the right to rape women used to “mingling” with men, and such “mingling” would be evidence in court that the raped women wanted to be raped!

I am no expert on the law of evidence or the law of criminal procedure, but I have definitely heard of the legal term ‘habitual offenders’. This is the first time I am hearing of habitual victims!

Pic credit: Ben Schumin (Used under a Creative Commons license)

I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management

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What is Domestic Violence & How to report domestic Violence - घरेलु हिंसा से बचाव (in Hindi)



  1. wow what a world we live in!!! Nice article

    Once a woman came to rescue a teenage girl who was cornered by an uncle in bus and he was touching her and she was movign towards other women for help. And this woman spoke out for her.But other men in the bus didnt like it and they gropped her chest. I was in the same bus (Kerala , India)

    Same goes for a lawyer i know who was supposed to represent a girl who was raped by her younger male cousin ( he was under d influence of drug at the time of the crime) . Though he is her lawyer he is already saying oh she is in her late 20s and not married .She went to her aunt’s house and when he touched her she might have complied.

    That may be a possibility in rarest situations.But the highest possibility is she might have been raped since most men would do it and they wont step back and would use thier full force to fulfill her ego and needs

    i dont know why our men are like this. And to make it worst for the majority of us there are women who make false allegations.

    Men remind of those fairytales where a person gets all the strength one day and he is too proud of himself that he destroys himself and evrything around him.

    This self righteousness and entitlement feeling of male genome will destroy us all one day

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