If A Rape Survivor Says she said “No” it has to be Believed: Bombay HC
“If the version of the survivor is specific that she had not consented to the act and she was forcibly subjected to sexual intercourse, it will have to be believed and accepted like any other testimony unless there is material available to draw an inference against her testimony,” said justice Dangre of Bombay HC, the TOI reported.
The court ruled this while reviewing the rape case of a 16-year-old girl by her neighbour in Pune. It had happened in the year 2000 when the accused, Dada Gaikwad was 19. He abducted the girl, gagged her and took her to a field where he forced himself on her. His judgement came in 2002 where he was declared guilty.
However, in these years, Gaikwad merely spent five months in jail. He was released on anticipatory bail.
Recently, the case came for hearing in front of the Bombay jury. The defense presented an argument saying that since no traceable external injuries were found on the victim’s body, it was a consensual act. However, the judge ruled against this statement saying the girl’s word is more accountable until proven otherwise.
“The absence of visible injuries on the survivor on the date of her medical examination would not lead to an inference that she has not suffered any injuries or she has not offered any resistance and it would not falsify her allegations of forcible sexual intercourse,” the judge said to TOI.
The court emphasised on viewing the case as a serious matter, not to be contested on baseless facts. “A heinous offence like rape committed on a minor girl cannot be looked with laxity…She has a right to make choices, which includes a right to deny sexual intercourse” the court said as mentioned by TOI, emphasising a girl child had the right to live with dignity.
The judgement now acts as a hindrance to arguments about consent by rape accused. Often, there are attempts to bury a case by stating that the act was consensual. Thus, this judgement puts a heavy weight on the girl’s statement and can act as a way towards justice.