The activist who tried to enter the Sabarimala sanctum in 2018, Rehana Fathima has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Kerala High Court’s rejection of her anticipatory bail in the case of showcasing obscenity by letting her children paint on her semi-nude body. The petition argued that nudity cannot be treated as obscenity. The petition was submitted on Monday, July 28, 2020, after the Kerala High Court dismissed her plea for bail on Friday, July 24, 2020.

The Case

Last month, the social activist from Kerala, Rehana Fathima, uploaded a video in which her minor children were seen painting on her semi-nude body. The video went viral on social media and sparked a huge controversy that led to the activist being booked for showcasing obscenity. Reportedly, BJP OBC Morcha leader A V Arun Prakash lodged a complaint against her. Consequently, police in Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district booked her under the Information Technology Act and Juvenile Justice Act, reports India Today.

Also Read: Court says nothing obscene in magazine cover showing breastfeeding 

Kerala High Court Judgement

Fathima then sought a pre-arrest bail from the case but on July 24, 2020, her plea was rejected by the Kerala High Court. The judgement cited Section 13 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Section 67 (B) of Information Technology Act (IT) saying that the video represented children in an obscene and indecent manner for “sexual gratification”. Moreover uploading the video encourages child abuse online.

After Fathima’s plea for bail was rejected, she knocked on the door of the Supreme Court to challenge the charges laid against her. She submitted a petition in which she states that the case violates her fundamental rights of life, liberty and dignity under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

No Obscene Or Indecent Representation Of Children

Questioning the charge of portraying obscenity and child abuse, Fathima said in her petition that female nudity cannot be treated as obscenity. The petition also cited an earlier case of Aveek Sarkar versus the State of West Bengal that concluded that portrayal of any sex-material that arouses lustful thoughts can only be considered as obscene. She has allowed her semi-nude body to be used as a canvas by her children.

Challenging Section 13 of POSCO Act, the petition says, “There has been no indecent or obscene representation of a child in this case- they merely paint in an expressionless manner as children do. It is therefore impossible to conclude that any child was used for sexual gratification”

Adding further, the petition said, “There can probably be nobody except a pervert who would be aroused to sexual desire by seeing the nature of the work.

Also Read: A Look At The Women Who Tried To Enter Sabarimala

Whether Female Nudity Constitutes Obscenity?

Moreover, the petition clarified that Fathima’s intention behind making and uploading the video was to normalise and desexualise the idea of the female body in her children’s mind. The petition also mentioned how the murals and idols of the goddesses worshipped in temples are often depicted with bare breasts. But the feeling aroused is not of sexual desire but of divinity.

“Whether female nudity (even when not visible) per se constitutes obscenity? Whether children painting on their mother‘s body can be concluded to be ”sexual gratification” and ”child abuse” under these stringent laws?” the petition questioned.

Picture Credit: Madhyamam

 

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