#Opinion

Filth, Dirt And Soft Porn: How A Sexual Assault Survivor’s Account Was Judged In Court

allahabad hc soft porn fir, sexual intent towards children, Surat Rape Convict Death Penalty ,Rape and Murder Of Gujarat Minor ,araria pocso court ,Allahabad HC Lowers Sentence Of Man Allahabad High court reduced sentence of man ,custody of child ,POCSO Case ,Mainpuri rape case ,Rupa Tirkey Death Case children sleeping on pavement Allahabad HC On Sex Racket ,Tamil Nadu Sexual Harassment Judge quotes Maya Angelou ,rape and molestation case ,case against UP minister ,Skin To Skin Contact Ruling, Adultery Crime Armed Forces, sister abhaya case, women judges india, Hathras Family Illegal Confinement, Indian woman residence rights
How is a survivor of sexual assault supposed to narrate what happened to her? According to Justice Rahul Chaturvedi of Allahabad High Court, she should be decent, non-graphic and she should make an effort to seem shameful about the abuse she faced. When a survivor narrated her ordeal in an FIR devoid of all things decent, the judge found it to be “soft porn”.

Instead of focusing on the grave abuse faced by the survivor, the judge seemed fixated on the manner she registered her complaint and said, “The graphical description portrayed by her in her FIR is deplorable to be condemned in its strongest terms. The FIR is the place where the informant gives the story mobilizing the State Machinery engaging in the commission of cognizable offence.”

Justice Chaturvedi then made a remark that made us feel disgusted. He said, “It is not soft porn literature where the graphical description should be made.” The judge’s repulsiveness towards the language used by the survivor is seen as yet another reason for survivors to not knock at the doors of the judiciary. Is there a real possibility of justice in courts of law where the judge will first decide if he likes the “story” in FIR before punishing the abusers? Should a survivor be expected to modify her statement so that it doesn’t read like “soft porn”?

Allahabad HC Soft Porn FIR: What was the case?

The FIR was filed by a woman who had accused her in-laws of sexual assault. In her complaint, the woman had told the police that both her father-in-law and her brother-in-law had allegedly demanded sexual favours from her and that they had forced her to get abortions. She had also accused her husband of forcing himself on her when she was pregnant and subjecting her to sexual acts she was not comfortable with such as urinating in her mouth. She left her marital home on October 4, 2018 after her husband allegedly tried to strangle her with a chunni over dowry demand and forced her head into a toilet bowl, as per reports. The FIR in the case was filed by the survivor after 18 days of the incident, as noted by the judge in his statement, on October 22, 2018.

It is shocking that instead of seeing the obviously abusive mindset of the in-laws and the husband, Justice Rahul Chaturvedi started his address like this -“After reading the FIR allegedly lodged by [the complainant] after 18 days of the incident, which is ever­ abhorring, full of dirt and filth.” The husband and the in-laws in the case are charged under section 498A cruelty case. The judge did not allow the husband to be discharged but family members were allowed to be discharged. The judge has also ordered a “cooling period” in the case. Even without questioning the fairness of the judgement, one is forced to ask how can a judge ridicule a survivor in a court of law for merely filing a detailed complaint?

Judge’s Remark on the case

In the judgement, now read by many out of sheer disbelief, the judge has written that the “story” in the FIR is “abhorring, full of dirt, filth and venomous accusations where the informant fiercely abused her own husband and in-­laws by using all the ways and means in the tone, tenor and texture in an extreme manner.” The judge further stressed on how he found the “graphic and vivid descriptions of the incident without any shame or hitch of any sort which, speaks out volumes of mental condition and amount of venom and poison in the mind of the informant.” The Allahabad court judge made a remark about the complainant’s mental condition because she did not seem shameful while narrating the way she was abused?

Is there a new rule of law where survivors have to be respectful towards their abusers in their dialogue? Has India gone back to primitive times when women were expected to restrict their speech? The judge also wrote that he found the allegations made by the complainant to be exaggerated. Isn’t court a place where allegations are proved right and wrong? Then how come the judge had made up his mind about the nature of the allegations just by reading them in an FIR?


Suggested Reading: How Johnny Depp Verdict Can Discourage Abuse Survivors From Speaking Up


Justice Chaturvedi did not stop there. He went on to write what an FIR should read like. He wrote, “The language of the FIR should be decent one and no amount of atrocities faced by the informant, would justify her to use such type of caustic expressions. FIR/complaint is the gateway of any criminal case even soft and decent expression would well communicate the alleged atrocities faced by her.”

By this logic, the language of the complaint is in some way more important that the complaint itself. If a survivor is able to give a detailed account to the police, shouldn’t it be helpful in investigating the case? Nobody expects the complainant should decide how and what she wants to share about the wrongs done to her. The “filth and dirt” of the FIR noted by the judge should not be towards how the things were mentioned but what was mentioned.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

We request you to support our award-winning journalism by making a financial contribution towards our efforts. Your funds will ensure we can continue to bring you amazing stories of women, and the impact they are making and spotlight half the country's population because they deserve it.

By proceeding, you are agreeing to our Terms of Service .View our FAQs and Support page .