Sometimes you have to hand it to the courts. Recent comments by the SC finally settled the issue of whether or not a rapist’s sentence should be lowered just because the victim “forgave” him. To me and many others, this seemed obvious. We don’t need the Supreme Court to tell us that a crime is a crime regardless of what happens afterwards. Either a rape occurred – or it didn’t. It can’t be conditional on future events!
Many people seem to think that if a victim forgives her rapist, then all’s well that ends well. Maybe she marries him or accepts financial compensation or whatever from his family and that’s sufficient reason to either drop the charges or significantly lessen them. For those with their head screwed on straight, this is an outrage. In an attempt to administer “social justice” many judges seem to have forgotten the long term consequences of this attitude and even the basic principles of law.
If it becomes known that a dead person forgave a murderer before they died, will the judiciary wrap up the case saying “Oh well…as long as they were forgiven, we’re just wasting our time”? Certainly not! After all, we don’t hold trials and administer justice for the sole purpose of satisfying the victim do we? Let’s leave aside the fact that this kind of stupidity gives every incentive to the rapist to pressurize the victim into marrying them by leveraging the shame that society places on her thereby condemning her to an eternal torture of marrying the person who violated her.
Rape is not just a offense against a specific person, but against the state itself. The laws of the country were broken and there have to be consequences for that also laid down by law. During a trial, the facts of the case determine whether or not the rape occurred. No one should ask if the rapist is repentant, has been forgiven, or has agreed to marry the victim. Because it’s doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant. So even though I shouldn’t have to say this, thank god for the higher courts who sometimes seem to be the only sensible institutions in the country!
Either a rape occurred – or it didn’t. It can’t be conditional on future events!
Another positive (and unexpected) side effect is that this should stop girls from filing rape charges against a man to force them into marriage. News reports are full of examples of women in live in relationships or long term sexual partnerships with men who later on refuse to get married. The implications of this ruling by the Supreme Court means that regardless of a future event of marriage, the rape case still has to proceed. Once again – a rape either took place, or it didn’t. Whatever happens in the future cannot change what happened in the past.
It’s amazing how such a simple observation by the courts can have such a large impact. It underscores the fact that rape in India is mostly about this stupid concept of “honor” and that a married woman being raped is somehow different from the same happening to a non married woman. There’s still a lot of bullshit swirling around in the heads of Indians. Like marriage being the end all of a woman’s life and rape turning her into a “living corpse”. Change will be slow, but we can at least prepare the laws in advance can’t we?