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The right to protection from sexual assault: the Indian anti-rape campaign.

Authors
  • Gangoli, G
Type
Published Article
Journal
Development in practice
Publication Date
Nov 01, 1996
Volume
6
Issue
4
Pages
334–340
Identifiers
PMID: 12291816
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

This article reveals a viewpoint that emphasizes some dilemmas among Indian feminist practice, women's sexuality in legal terms, and case law in India. The Indian Women's Movement (IWM) was successful in 1983 in adding a legal amendment on rape and child abuse. The case that mobilized women to change the law occurred in 1980 when a court acquitted two policemen who were charged with raping and molesting a 16-year-old tribal girl. The Bombay High Court overturned the judgement and convicted both policemen. The case was appealed, and the policemen successfully argued that rape did not occur because the girl did not protest and was sexually experienced anyway. In 1980 the Forum Against Rape was formed to mobilize public support and to lobby the State for reform of the law on rape. The campaign focused on custodial rape and political repression, rape as civil rights issue, and rape as a women's issue. There was a distancing between the victim, who occupied a lower caste and class position, and her defenders in the women's groups. The campaign appealed to both the appropriate judgement of the State and the denial that the State was an effective vehicle for change. The campaign did not directly address incest and marital rape or domestic violence within families. The legislature debated the issue of legal change during 1982. The debate revealed deep divisions about sexuality and women's status. It was argued that chaste women were not rape victims, and unchaste women were of a socially inferior caste and class. It was argued that there should be a ban on child marriage rather than spousal rape laws. Child rape is a legal issue only when the perpetrator is outside the family. Rape was discussed as an act of lust and not violence. In 1992, a woman promoting an end to child marriage was raped and the men were acquitted. It was argued that the law was out-of-date and in need of revision.

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