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With the #MeToo movement gaining momentum in the country, we’ve seen many women naming and shaming sexual predators publicly. However, what message did our justice system send to the victims of sexual violence, with its victim shaming remarks while giving anticipatory bail to Alok Nath, a rape accused?
It all started with a detailed Facebook post in October 2018 by Screenwriter Vinta Nanda who shared details of the sexual violence inflicted on her without revealing Alok Nath’s name, but mentioned the alleged rapist as being “the most #Sanskaari (cultured) person in the film and television industry.” Later, she filed a complaint with the police, following which Alok Nath filed for pre-arrest bail fearing arrest.
Today, on 9th January 2018, the court granted the bail to Alok Nath on a surety bond of Rs. 5 lakh. The issue of granting bail is not what is raising eyebrows; rather, it is the observations that accompanied the decision.
The court observed that the report filed by the complainant Vinta Nanda may be “defamatory”, “false”, and “inspired by the unrequited and unreciprocated love”, among other similar vile statements. The court observed the friendship between Vinta, and Alok Nath’s wife Ashu in the early 80’s, how the two had gained the friendship of Alok Nath in the midst of 80’s, and how Alok married Ashu. What follows sounds more like a movie script than anything real.
According to the court, “The complainant soon found herself to be secluded as she had lost her best friend” and that the allegation is “inspired by the unrequited and unreciprocated love and affection that she had for him.”
A woman, a successful woman, in the midst of thousands of other victims has spoken up about sexual violence in a patriarchal country, and sought the help of the judicial system of the country to avail the justice she rightfully deserves; are these observations the justice she receives?
It continues. The court, observing the reason as to why the complainant didn’t file a complaint for 20 years since the incidents, said that there’s “no record to show that Nath had given any threat or made any promise against lodging a report.” And also that she “did not lodge the report immediately after the alleged incident for her own benefit.”
Does the court expect every rape victim to record every threat and promises by the rapist so it can be used as an excuse as to why the victim didn’t file a complaint with the police? Is it feasible? Is everything recorded? There wouldn’t be a need for an institution such as a court or the police if each and everything that happens is recorded; we could just use that “record” like a credit to get “justice” and not struggle so much by approaching the court. Can we focus on the crime and not on why the victim didn’t file a complaint for a long time? Many crimes go unreported in our country, and it’s not the time to shame a rape victim for not filing the complaint right after the incident.
Now we come to the part where the court is very specific that anything that’s not recorded meant that it didn’t happen. It says that Vinta “remembers the entire incident but she did not remember the date and month of the incident.”
Our brains don’t work that way. It doesn’t remember each and everything that happens, and especially when it comes to traumatic events, the brain represses such memories to protect itself. We’re humans, and our brains are prone to deleting or repressing traumatic events and their associated memories, and not remembering the date and month is no reason to label a rape accusation as “false”. What’s today’s date? I could bet that not everyone would remember it right away (even though I mentioned it at the beginning of this piece).
“In view of all these facts, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the applicant has falsely been enroped in the crime”: On this, I could not help but believe that the court has taken no efforts to truly hear the victim. What happened to the detailed account of a living, breathing woman, her years of suffering from the trauma, as well as the five hour statement that the police recorded? These are to be brushed aside because she cannot remember dates?
But would it stop here? The rapists, and the institutions favouring the welfare of powerful men; would it stop here?
It’s either that, or we keep raising our voices against the sexual violators, and the lacunae in the judicial system that let powerful men go away untouched. The more the struggles and setbacks that slam us, the louder our voices should be.
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