India’s top court triggers outrage by urging rape accused to marry survivor
New Delhi, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- India’s top court on Monday asked a government official, who had sought bail in a rape case, if he would be ready to marry the young woman who he had allegedly sexually abused for years, a request similar to how cases of sexual assault are sometimes resolved in rural India which has triggered outrage among rights activists.
The accused allegedly followed the victim, who was 16-years-old at the time, to her home after school and took advantage of the absence of her parents to assault her, while threatening to throw acid on her face and harm her family if she revealed what had happened, according to details of the case revealed by the local media.
During Monday’s hearing, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the accused if he was ready to marry the woman in exchange for being able to keep his government job.
“You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl. You knew you are govt servant,” said the judge, according to Bar and Bench, a specialized media portal that follows legal proceedings.
The accused said later that he had reached an agreement with the survivor’s mother – after a suicide attempt on her part – to marry her, but she had refused to do so.
The government official added that now he was already married, due to which he could not tie the knot with the woman.
In some rural areas of India, there is a custom of the rape survivor demanding the rapist to marry her as part of restoring her “honor” and in order to avoid the stigma faced by victims of such a crime.
However, nonprofit Equality Now told EFE that such a solution has “no place in modern justice systems.”
“The marriage of a girl to the very person who perpetrated the sexual abuse will result in further victimization, trauma, and risk of additional human rights violations. It also denies survivors the chance of legal justice,” said Jacqui Hunt, the director of Equality Now’s Eurasia office.
“Rape is a crime and should be treated as a crime, as opposed to allowing the rapist to obtain legal and social immunity by marrying the survivor,” she added. EFE-EPA