Thursday, March 11, 2010

Condoning Rape by marriage is bad idea

Recent news of chief justice of India Mr Balakrishnan supporting choice of rape victim to marry the accused has shocked several among public.

"Due regard must be given to their personal autonomy since in some cases the victim may choose to marry the perpetrator or choose to give birth to a child conceived through forced intercourse," Balakrishnan said.

It seems the CJI has in mind those cases where a rape is alleged after the woman was promised marriage but the man turned on his word.  The choice of someone to allege the crime of rape and then be able to change their mind should not be allowed.  Any rape allegation should proceed to its end with either acquittal or conviction of accused, or prosecution of alleged victim in case accusation was found to be patently false.

The freedom to accuse someone of crime and then do some kind of settlement with the accused is not allowed on most criminal justice systems.  If that was allowed, following absurd and perverse situations could arise:

  1. Rob or defraud a person or company of property and money, and then invite them to a joint partnership with the allegedly stolen/fraud money.
  2. Murder someone, and then allow family members of murdered person to accept compensation in turn for withdrawing murder allegations.  Needless to say, law does not allow condoning such offences as murder.

The problem seems to be that judiciary and reportedly some NGOs are trying to fix what arises from a social issue of consensual sex before marriage using legal and judicial means.  To avoid the issues arising from rehabilitating the rape victim, they are proposing a quick formula which has no guarantee to work.  From news below:

However, in a recent case in Cuttack district, the Orissa High Court asked a rape accused to either languish in jail without bail or marry the victim. The accused had sexually abused the girl on the pretext of marrying her and later deserted her after she became pregnant. The victim subsequently lodged a complaint against him. "Permanent bail would be allowed only if the accused tied the knot with the victim within this two-month period and allow his name to be the baby's father," the Bench specified.

"The practice of rapists marrying their victims may be condoned in some instances. But it should also be remembered that several such cases are based on the false promise of marriage and result in desertion," says Sneha Mishra, Orissa State Coordinator of the "We Can" Campaign to end violence against women. She also observes that many of these cases involve couples who are already in a relationship and the man usually deserts the women or refuses to marry her upon discovering that she is pregnant. This, she believes, is also a serious offence.

So in this case, the HC judge took it upon himself to ensure welfare of the pregnant woman.   The only problem is what will happen if the accused got the bail, and later still deserted the woman, say after 2 years.  What offence will be be charged with then?  Who will take care of rehabilitating the woman and child at the time?

The most important thing is for judiciary to function effectively and in time bound manner, so people have some faith in approaching the judiciary.  All the other suggestions are like putting fresh paint on a building which is crumbling down.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder why the Chief Justice of India had to make such a comment; it is atrocious. In almost all cases the victim will be dumped after sometime. The punishment for the culprit should be extreme, such as life imprisonment or castration. Under no circumstances should be culprit let free.