Indian court rules that there is no sexual abuse without removing clothes

In a judgment last week, Bombay High Court Judge Pushpa Ganeediwala found that a 39-year-old man was not guilty of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl because she had not taken off her clothes, which meant there was no skin-skin touch. .

According to court documents, the man brought the child to his home in December 2016 on the pretext of delivering his guava. While there, he touched her chest and tried to take off her underwear as decided.

He was convicted of sexual abuse and sentenced to three years in prison in the lower court, but then appealed to the High Court.

In his ruling on January 19, Justice Ganeediwala observed that his act would not fall within the definition of “sexual harassment”, which would increase the minimum jail term of three years which could be extended to five years.

He wrote, “Given the harsh nature of the crime, in the opinion of this court, hard evidence and serious allegations are required.” The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses of India Act 2012 does not explicitly state that skin-to-skin contact is required to constitute a crime of sexual assault.

Justice Ganeediwala acquitted the accused of sexual harassment but convicted him on lesser charges of molestation and sentenced to one year in jail.

“It is a fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that the punishment for a crime will be proportionate to the severity of the crime,” she said.

India’s sexual assault problem

Indians were taken to social media following the Bombay High Court’s decision to question the logic of the court’s decision, which sets a new precedent. Other high courts and lower courts in the country will now be required to follow the Bombay High Court’s decision.

National Women Commission said It planned to make the decision a legal challenge, stating that “it will have a broad impact on various provisions relating to the safety and security of women”.

Karuna Nuni, a lawyer in the Supreme Court of India, the country’s top court, called judges who passed decisions that were “completely contrary to established law” and had the basic rights to withdraw.

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“Such decisions contribute to impurity in crimes against girls,” he Tweeted.

Ranjana Kumari, director of the Non-Profit Center for Social Research advocating for women’s rights in India, said the decision was “shameful, humiliating, shocking and devoid of judicial discretion.”

Sexual assault is a major issue in India, where sexual offenses are often cruel and widespread, but often poorly treated under the country’s justice system. Based on 2018 official figures, the rape of a woman is reported every 16 minutes.
After a high-profile case in 2012 when a 23-year-old student was raped and murdered in a New Delhi bus, legal reforms and more severe punishments were introduced.

Those included fast-track courts to rapidly pursue rape cases through the justice system, a revised definition of rape to include anal and oral penetration, and intent to do away with a two-finger test Publication of new government guidelines that allegedly assess a woman recently had sexual intercourse.

But high-profile rape cases have consistently made headlines. Last year, the number of cases decreased, in which a 13-year-old girl was raped and strangled to death in a field, and an 86-year-old woman was allegedly raped while she was a milkman. Was waiting for .
Activists have pointed to the issues going on in the justice system. For example, under India’s legal system, sexual misconduct with a transgender person carries a maximum jail term of two years.

CNN’s Swati Gupta and Manveena Suri contributed reporting.


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