A Delhi fast-track court set up in the Indian capital to dispose of cases relating to sexual offenses against women, recently acquitted a man accused of rape after he slept with a woman whom he had promised to marry.
“When a grown up, educated and office going woman subjects herself to sexual intercourse with a friend or colleague on the latter’s promise that he would marry her, she does so at her own peril,” presiding judge Virender Bhat said.
“She must understand that she is engaging in an act which not only is immoral but also against the tenet of every religion. No religion in the world allows pre-marital sex,” Bhat added.
According to the Indian Penal Code, sexual intercourse with a woman after obtaining her consent on the false promise of marriage amounts to rape. In this specific case, however, the judge found no evidence to prove the accused man slept with the woman after promising wedlock.
The two first met on a social networking site in July 2006 and began corresponding via e-mails, some of which were featured as part of the evidence against the 29-year-old Punjabi man.
“It appears that the prosecutrix being a mature, educated and employed lady, understood the nature and consequence of sexual indulgence with the accused and agreed to have sexual intercourse with him only on account of her love and passion for him and not solely of any alleged misrepresentation,” Bhat said.
India has come under the spotlight internationally following a series of brutal gang rapes. The most recent ended with the 16-year-old, pregnant victim, burned alive by her attackers.
The world’s largest democracy also gained attention in December, 2013, when its Supreme Court ruled to reinstate a colonial-era law dating back more than 150 year, which imposes a 10-year sentence for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal.”
This law is commonly referred to when discussing gay sex in India.
Protesters around the world demanded that the court overturn its ruling. United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay wrote in a statement: “Criminalizing private, consensual same-sex conduct violates the rights to privacy and non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified.”
India’s national elections will be held in May 2014. It’s expected that several issues to be debated in society will revolve around sex crimes against women and gay rights.