India, land of bride burnings, has more progressive rape laws than we do. Surprise!

Apparently, the Indian Supreme Court has decided that a victim’s testimony is sufficient to convict a rapist and that no further corroboration should be required. From now on Indian women who have been raped will (supposedly) not have to prove that they broke a constant legal state of consent when they go to court. The Indian Supreme Court, you see, has decided that the trauma involved in going through the investigation and trial will most likely weed out any false accusations. There must not be any MRAs in India. From the article:

“She would be conscious of the danger of being ostracised by society and when in the face of these factors the crime is brought to light, there is an inbuilt assurance that the charge is genuine rather than fabricated,” the bench said.

It also said that the deposition of a rape victim must enjoy the same level of court’s confidence that the testimony of an injured person enjoys about the physical assault.

The bench held that even if a court is not able to believe the deposition of a rape victim, it should at best seek some evidence to assure itself of the deposition, instead of seeking independent corroboration.

You hear that? In India they afford rape victims’ testimony the same weight they give to that of assault victims. What a revolutionary idea.

I know India is a vastly different country than the US, and I know that there are serious social and financial consequences attached to admitting (Hear that? ADMITTING!) to having been raped, since doing so means admitting one is not a virgin (that such a thing is a concern is a problem in and of itself), but I find the legal reasoning behind this decision to be of interest considering the fact that in our own legal system 6% or less of rapes end with the rapist receiving any punishment.

I suppose I’ll start calling India a feminist utopia when we no longer hear of bride burnings, sati, dowries, and the fact that women are ostracized for having “lost their virginity” by being raped, but, on a few fronts, they’re still making us look bad.

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14 thoughts on “India, land of bride burnings, has more progressive rape laws than we do. Surprise!

  1. Other than the link you gave, I couldn’t find anything on this on the net or the news, I guess it still has to pick up steam. At first I thought it a little unfair to base a judgment purely on the woman’s word because of the possibility of misuse (few and far between, I’ve only seen this happen once in my life), but then I believe the ruling extends to the court trying to influence belief on behalf of the victim when in most cases it’s the accused who is presumed to be innocent in this country from the get go, unless there’s a child involved. I figure factual evidence is to be the clincher in the case so the MRAs (wait till they get a whiff of this) needn’t worry. Belief for the victim, if it can be made into a law, might be a step in the right direction, because I like the idea of a man living the fear of the accusation of rape as evidence as much as a woman lives in the fear of being raped, because as far as I’ve learnt they do it because they’re assured that they can get away with it. I don’t know whether a law can change an ancient attitude towards rape victims, however. (Like I said, MRAs needn’t worry.) The rape law comes worded under some ancient sounding dramatic language (‘outraging the modesty of a woman’) and doesn’t extend to details like rape with foreign objects and partial penetration and such, so there are plenty of loopholes for the rapist to slip through. In fact I read of a thirty year old case where a woman was raped by sodomy and assaulted badly enough to go into a coma (still in it), and her rapist was sent to jail for stealing her purse, but her rape did not qualify as a rape so he walked in seven years. Plus the common attitude is that to be rid of the problem the woman should just kill herself (and they do do that even now).


  2. Definitely. I wish they’d have the same law here. There are some assholes around here that don’t believe rape exist. WTF?!

    And, recently, it was ruled that rape excludes men. Men are not capable of being raped, apparently. I wonder how you explain that to your son who has just been abused…


  3. Well, if you think the US is bad, Scotland, where I’m from, really ain’t much better – or at least it wasn’t up until 2002. Before then, men accused of rape were actually allowed to cross-examine their victims in court! In one particularly tragic incident, a young rape victim killed herself after being forced to hold up the allegedly “provocative” clothing she was wearing on the night of the rape!


  4. It’s actually the same law you have in the US.

    I read about this on another site, it’s no other corroboration needed /if/ the jury deem her telling the truth. I think that’s the same right?


  5. Sally is right, the US law is the same. The default state of consent exists in the patriarchy-trained minds of the jury, not the law. Other crimes work the same way. If I go into my neighbors’ house and take their TV, the law presumes me innocent until evidence to the contrary is provided. The difference is that when those neighbors tell the court that they never said I could take their TV, they are believed.


  6. It’s not really the same. I mean, the law says innocent until proven guilty, and since we live in a misogynistic culture and most cases come down to a complaint and a denial, the dude gets off (94% of the time a rapist does no time here). The difference, I think, is that judges in India make the call, and they are now asked to take the victim’s story as fact rather than require corroboration. Juries might do as juries here do, disregard the law out of disdain for or disbelief of victims.


  7. My sister got me hooked on Digrassi, which is essentially a Canadian soap-opera aimed at and about high-school kids. However the last couple episodes have been pretty damn good, a girl who was raped went into court, gave a compelling defense, which was then thrown out due to lack of evidence. Of course the guy who raped her was a muscle-laden fraternity jock type who obviously did it and obviously didn’t care. Anyway, it was great to see my younger sister’s face when she witnessed a (fictional) injustice, and it gave me a lovely opportunity to get her up to speed on how common such injustices are. So thanks Nine for giving me the knowledge needed to slowly turn youths into activists.


  8. I can’t wrap my brain around how rape victims can be looked down upon- as though they have done something wrong. It’s plain nuts


  9. My University used to have a bylaw that required any accuser be questioned in front of a board (full of men, I would imagine) by her(or his) alleged rapist. There was no mention of the accuser interrogating the alleged rapist.

    This was in place through the ’90s and into the 2000s. It had been pretty back-lash-tastic there since the ’70s. They finally got a Woman’s Center again sometime around 2008.


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