NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An Indian judge faced an outpouring of anger on Thursday after he cast doubt on a woman’s rape claim, calling her description of events “unbecoming” and granting her alleged attacker protection from arrest.
Krishna S. Dixit, a high court judge in the southern state of Karnataka, said he found it a “bit difficult to believe” the woman’s description of events because she had agreed to have a drink with the man she later accused of rape.
He also questioned her decision not to call police immediately and her claim that she fell asleep after the alleged attack.
“The explanation offered by the complainant that after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep, is unbecoming of an Indian woman,” said Dixit.
“That is not the way our women react when they are ravished,” he said in his order granting anticipatory bail, or temporary protection from arrest, which has been widely criticised on social media since it was delivered on Monday.
One critic, Snigdha Sharma, tweeted that it was “unbecoming of a judge to be so ... misogynistic,” while another posted that it was a case of “educated men of our country taking misogyny to next level”.
India has a grim record of sexual violence and discrimination against women, with an average of about 90 rapes reported each day in 2018, according to government data.
The fatal gang rape of a student on a Delhi bus in 2012 sparked nationwide anger and led to stringent anti-rape laws.
Yet one woman reported a rape every 15 minutes on an average in India in 2018. Most rapes are committed by people known to the victims such as relatives, neighbours and employers, say campaigners.
A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of gender experts in 2018 rated India as the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and slave labour.
The judge listed several conditions for granting anticipatory bail, which protects an individual from detention before police have investigated the accusation against them, including reporting to a local police station every two weeks.
Meera Sanghamitra, a transgender woman and activist, said the Karnataka court order reflected a miscarriage of justice.
“Casting outrageous aspersions on complainant herself! Who gives these judges the authority to ‘judge’ a woman like this,” she said.
Reporting by Annie Banerji @anniebanerji, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org