Rape ‘reduces woman to animal’, teen’s 6-day ordeal after assault, Akbar case

The 16 April edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

A wedding bed in India. Former Chief Justice Dipak Misra has come under criticism for saying that criminalising marital rape would cause ‘anarchy’ in India. Image is representative. Photo: AHLN /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Cultural notions of ‘honour’ and ‘traditional values’ influence the socio-legal understanding of rape in India. This came into relief last week in two separate contexts, both of which were reported widely in the media. First, when former chief justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra proclaimed that criminalising marital rape would create “absolute anarchy” in families, and then when the Supreme Court ruled that sex “on the pretext of marriage” is rape and a blow to the “supreme honour” of a woman.

Editor’s pick

The case of Pinki Pramanik, the former “golden girl of Indian athletics” who was accused of sexual assault and gender fraud by her live-in partner, revealed media biases about who can be a victim and who can be an offender, writes NewsTracker’s Simran Singh in ‘When gender blinded the media to (an alleged) rape’.

Across India: news since last Tuesday

When former CJI Dipak Misra said in a conference that he did not believe marital rape should be criminalised in India because the nation is founded on “family values”, most news reports took a critical stance. The Deccan Herald reported that Misra’s words “ seemed to hit many young women gathered for the conference hard”, while Outlook quoted outraged lawyers. Raghav Pandey and Neelabh Bist in Firstpost argued that Misra’s postulation “insults the institution of marriage”. and Sreemoyee Piu Kundu in DailyYo called family values “a joke” in a country “where wives are treated like slaves”.

There has been less commentary on a Supreme Court ruling this week explicitly linking a woman’s “honour” to rape. A two-judge bench said that sex on the pretext of marriage is rape, observing that sexual assault “reduces a woman to an animal”. So saying, the court upheld the conviction of a Chhattisgarh doctor who had falsely promised to marry his girlfriend, though it reduced the sentence from 10 to seven years. Interestingly, back in January, another Supreme Court bench had ruled that that consensual sex between lovers is not rape if the man fails to marry the woman due to circumstances “beyond his control”.

The aftermath of sexual assault

Two stories last week shed light on the aftermath of sexual assault — a subject that does not usually attract much media attention.

In ‘Nehru Nagar residents live in fear after rape, murder of girl’, the Hindu revisited a Mumbai locality where a 9-year-old child was sexually assaulted an killed by a neighbour earlier this month. The report touched on the fears of residents as well as their opinions on the need for improved security.

In ‘14-year-old gang-raped in Dehradun school was force-fed chillies & papaya for 6 days’, the Print accessed statements by the survivor and accused to piece together a detailed picture of a sexual assault and ensuing cover-up by the authorities of the school where the crime occurred.

#MeToo

Journalist Priya Ramani has pleaded not guilty in former Union minister MJ Akbar’s defamation case against her. Akbar, who was accused by over a dozen women of sexual harassment, has so far filed a defamation case only against Ramani.

In a detailed report, the Quint tells the story of Shanti Verma, an All India Radio employee who decided to fast unto death after her complaints of sexual harassment were not addressed adequately.

In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, a railway employee jumped to her death from her home, leaving behind a letter in which she accused several colleagues of sexual harassment.

Abuse of trust

In Bandipore, Jammu and Kashmir, the suicide of a young woman and the subsequent arrest of her father for sexually assaulting her has caused outrage in the state, with politicians such as Mehbooba Mufti condemning the alleged crime. The victim left a note detailing what was done to her and to her sister, reported KashmirLife.

In Delhi, a 37-year-old man and his father have been arrested for allegedly raping a girl who is reportedly “under 10 years old”. The family had adopted the child from a relative. The younger man started sexually abusing her after his wife died last year and his father then started assaulting the child as well.

Read more

This roundup is curated from the RSS feeds of more than 30 English news publications from across India.

See a fuller list of rape and sexual violence cases reported today, and earlier this week.

Use our case filter to read reports on specific cases: #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, #RapeOfMinors, #Muzaffarapur, #PoliticsOfRape (use the dropdown menu in column A).

Follow us

You can follow us on @maarnews for NewsTracker Originals and more. Or use the sign up link below to get Note This directly in your inbox!