Judge dismisses woman’s sexual assault complaint because she wore ‘provocative clothes’

·2-min read
Court documents show the district court judge in the southern Indian state of Kerala made the remarks while permitting bail for the 74-year-old accuser who was not officially charged (The Associated Press)
Court documents show the district court judge in the southern Indian state of Kerala made the remarks while permitting bail for the 74-year-old accuser who was not officially charged (The Associated Press)

A judge in southern India has sparked outrage by appearing to dismiss a sexual assault complaint because the accuser was wearing “provocative” clothes.

The comments were made in documents outlining the alleged offender’s bail application, which included images showing the woman wearing “sexual (sic) provocative” dresses.

The district court judge in Kerala stated it was “impossible to believe” that the alleged attacker, 74, who is disabled, could “forcefully” pull the accuser into his lap and “sexually press her breast”, CNN reports.

Court documents state that the alleged incident happened after the group were returning from a beach in Nandi and “the accused caught the hands of the defect complainant and forcefully took her to a lonely place”.

“He asked the defect complainant to lie on his lap. Thereafter he pressed her pressed and tried to outrage her modesty," the documents said.

The accuser, who was not officially charged, was granted bail.

Swati Maliwal, the chair of Delhi's Commission for Women, hit out at the judge’s comments and called for Kerala's High Court to look into the case.

“When will the mindset that blames victims of sexual abuse change?” Ms Maliwal posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

It comes after a Delhi high court sparked fury among women’s rights campaigners by refusing to outlaw marital rape.

Efforts to revoke the exemption, which states sex “by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape”, were rebuffed by Justice C Hari Shankar.

India has high levels of sexual violence - with figures from the National Crime Records Bureau released last September revealing the country recorded an average of 77 rape cases per day in 2020, as well as 80 murders each day.

Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in India, with some estimates indicating 90 to 95 per cent of rape cases remain unreported.