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We Need To Stop Seeing Marriage To The Rapist As ‘Relief’ For The Survivor!

Recently the Supreme Court of India asked a rape accused if he'd marry the survivor. Why does marriage even come into question here?

Recently the Supreme Court of India asked a rape accused if he’d marry the survivor. Why does marriage even come into question here?

Trigger warning: This post contains details of sexual assault and rape that may be triggering for survivors and certain readers. 

On Monday, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) asked a man accused of rape if he would marry the survivor. According to the report published in LiveLaw, the accused, who is a government employee, was seeking protection from arrest in a rape case.

The report also stated that the Apex court was hearing a petition by the man accused of repeatedly raping a minor. He is now facing charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

The man filed the petition to seek protection from arrest claiming he was a government employee who will be automatically suspended if he gets arrested.

While hearing the petition, the CJI reportedly asked the man, ‘Will you marry her (the survivor)?’

In response, the lawyer representing the accused said that he initially wanted to marry her but she refused. He also said that the man is already married.

After hearing the petition, the Apex court granted the man protection from arrest for four weeks and even directed him to apply for regular bail.

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The mere fact that the accused was asked if he’d marry the survivor has raised several eyebrows across the country.

Why is marrying the rapist even an option?

In our country, it’s not new to promote cultures that blame the woman and justify and even trivialise the crime. Survivors of sexual violence do not need our pity!

The idea that the survivor has no life after someone rapes her only leads to the belief that she should compromise. Right from registering a complaint to fighting the case, at every step, the survivor is asked to compromise for ‘her own benefit.’

The very question ‘Will you marry her’ is based on the concept of compromise. It takes away the autonomy she has over herself, her body and her choices.

Judgements such as this one are pretty common in our country. In November 2020, the Madras High Court granted bail to a convicted rapist and referred the matter to a ‘mediation centre.’ This is basically a system to arrange the marriage of the rapist with the survivor. Here, the survivor was a 17-year-old.

In January 2021, a man from Mumbai was granted bail after he ‘promised’ to marry the minor he was accused of raping and impregnating. He was, then, released after the survivor’s mother signed an affidavit supporting his release. By this time, the minor had already given birth to the rapist’s child.

Does rape stop being a crime if the accused marries the survivor?

Other than these two examples, there are several other cases where even the families of the survivors chose to marry them off to the rapist to ‘protect their honour.’ It is questions like ‘What will happen to her now?’ and ‘Who will marry her?’ that enforce the belief that marriage with the rapist is the perfect solution.

Our society manages to associate rape with a woman ‘losing’ her honour and purpose in life. This conditioning leads to judgements asking rapists to marry the survivor and the survivor losing all autonomy over themselves and their lives. Often, the accused simply marries the survivor to get away from any criminal charges.

It’s time we realise that marriage is not the solution for the survivor. At the same time, we need to start focussing on building a more conducive environment that holds the rapist as a criminal. This will only help survivors speak up and make it easier for them to live in a society without judgement.

It’s time we stopped seeing marriage to the rapist as ‘relief’ for the survivor.

Picture credits: James Ranieri for Pexels via Canva

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About the Author

Nishtha Pandey

I read, I write, I dream and search for the silver lining in my life. Being a student of mass communication with literature and political science I love writing about things that bother me. Follow read more...

214 Posts | 1,293,058 Views

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