Guardians of women’s morality and behaviour, rights groups, writers, activists and academicians have penned an open letter to Justice Krishna S Dixit of Karnataka High Court, criticizing some of his remarks in an order granting bail to an accused in a rape case.
The order termed the complainant’s claim of having slept “after the perpetration of the act because she was tired” as “unbecoming of an Indian woman”.
“That is not the way our women react when they are ravished,” the order of rape case stated after making statements related to the conduct of the woman in accompanying the accused to a hotel and not objecting to have “drink with the accused”.
The letter stated that
“instead of looking at the legal merits of granting bail, a woman’s conduct has been judged on moralistic and misogynistic grounds that have nothing to do with the law”.
“By doing so we believe that the Order has totally violated constitutional values apart from betraying a nineteenth century Victorian morality that has no place in these times”, said the letter backed by organizations such as Stree Jagruthi Samithi, Mahila Munnade, Gamana Mahila Samuha, AIPWA (All India Progressive Women’s Association), Sadhana Mahila Sangha, PUCL Karnataka, AIPF, AICCTU, Swaraj Abhiyan etc.
The order also reflects the same patriarchal, classist and casteist mindset that wrote the Rameeza Bi and Bhanwari Devi judgements in the eighties and nineties, the letter added.
“We do not accept that guardians of law and order and the Constitution become guardians of women’s morality and behaviour, claiming us as “our women” violating our own fundamental right to choose and express our emotions, thoughts, anxieties, fears, opinions in our own way and of our own volition. We will not accept that we are told time and again that “we ask for it” every time we choose to protest the violation of our bodies and our persona. We do not accept victim blaming and victim shaming when we are “punished” for “unladylike” behavior like socialising with men, being out late at night or drinking alcohol. And we can not accept when judicial officers abandon their role as Judges with constitutional obligation and responsibilities but instead express opinions that justify the worst of patriarchal norms and practices”,the activists urged.
The letter urged the judge to expunge the “toxic and misogynistic statements from the order” of rape case and deliver one that is based on law and not on prejudice.
“We call upon you to prove that the judiciary infact does stand by the women and all concerned citizens of India in their struggle to build a more equitable, just and democratic society that shows zero tolerance to violence against women and all marginalised genders”the letter said.
Read the letter here: