Women Rights Activists have written an open letter to Justice Krishna S Dixit of the Karnataka High Court against his remark on the rape victim while hearing a bail petition.
Calling the order “narrow, patriarchal and prejudiced” the women activists have urged the Judge “to expunge the toxic and misogynistic statements from the order and deliver one that is based on law and not on prejudice.”
The letter talks about the order dated June 22 when Justice Dixit while granting bail to the accused, stated that the complainant’s claim of having slept “after the perpetration of the act” because she was tired was “unbecoming of an Indian woman”. “That is not the way our women react when they are ravished”. The order laments after making some more statements related to the conduct of the woman in which it is indicated that by accompanying the accused to a hotel and not objecting to have “drink with the accused” she in fact is responsible for the assault committed on her person.
It has further been stated that the order was more concerned about the liberty of the rape accused and his health if he is incarcerated in times of the COVID 19 pandemic. It has been alleged that the Order has pre-empted and prejudiced the investigation and trial virtually dismissing the allegations of rape indicating that there is no prima facie evidence based the character assassination of the victim.
The letter further states that “using term like “ravished” instead of the legal term “sexual assault”, blaming the woman for the delay in filing her complaint, although she did it the next morning and casting aspersions on the character of the woman on account of her behavior is part of a continuing historical narrative which has legitimised different forms of violence be it domestic, sexual or economic and granted social if not legal impunity to the perpetrators of this violence.”
The activists also stated that, the order takes them back to “Mathura Case” where Supreme Court had upheld the Sessions Court order which acquitted the Accused, questioning the “moral” integrity of the 15 year old who they claimed had been “habituated to sexual intercourse” based on little or no evidence.
The order also reflected the same patriarchal, classist and casteist mindset that wrote the Rameeza Bi and Bhanwari Devi judgements in the eighties and nineties, stated the letter.
The activists lamenting at the order stated it is a matter of shame that such an order was coming from within the portals of the Karnataka High Court which sets the Indian judiciary and the struggle of women’s rights movements back by decades.
“We do not accept that guardians of law and order and the Constitution become guardians of women’s morality and behaviour, claiming us as “our women” violating our own fundamental right to choose and express our emotions, thoughts, anxieties, fears, opinions in our own way and of our own volition. We will not accept that we are told time and again that “we ask for it” every time we choose to protest the violation of our bodies and our persona. We do not accept victim blaming and victim shaming when we are “punished” for “unladylike” behavior like socialising with men, being out late at night or drinking alcohol. And we cannot accept when judicial officers abandon their role as Judges with constitutional obligation and responsibilities but instead express opinions that justify the worst of patriarchal norms and practices”, said the letter.
The letter has been written on behalf of 17 Organizations and 22 individuals representing different sections of the society.
-India Legal Bureau