'Women are soft targets of male lust, they are considered as chattels, although in our country they are hailed as Shakti, Mother, Sister, Nurse, Life Partner, Face Saver, All in one. And behind everyman’s success, they are there.They do deserve dignity than indignation.'
This rather inexplicable statement is part of the judgment delivered by the Madras High Court on a rape case in which the learned judge has asked the accused and victim to reconcile and prescribed mediation for the two.
Justice D Devadass has even cited religion as the foundation for the non-belligerent resolution of disputes, in this case the accused has offered to marry the victim. The feisty girl who has had a child as a result of the rape has refused to agree.
That a court should come up with something so unacceptable beggars belief. The girl was a minor when she was raped. To expect her to marry the man who assaulted her suggests an extreme lack of sensitivity on the part of the judge.
It is also going against the law that an accused in such a heinous crime can be absolved of his guilt by agreeing to marry the victim.
The victim in this case appears to be doubly traumatised, first by the rape and then by this court verdict. Both the law and society owe it to rape victims not to prolong their sufferings but rather to try and help them lead a normal life again.
They should not have to live with the stigma of rape that, according to this court, can be minimised only by marrying the offender.
Our popular culture too propagates the notion that a normal life ends for a woman once she is raped.
The courts ought to try and conduct rape trials speedily, record the statement of minor victims in a non-invasive and non-threatening environment, and prescribe counseling for her. In this case, the victim seems to have been left much to her own devices to both take care of herself and the child.
This judgment now focuses unwelcome attention on her and attempts to thrust an unacceptable solution to her problems on her.
If the accused is so keen to make restitution, the court should perhaps ask him to pay for the upkeep of the child, with no contact whatsoever with either the child or the victim.
This verdict is a mockery of justice and should be set aside at the earliest. The law on rape is more vigorous than ever today and this should be reflected in court judgments on such cases.