Rape in India is the fourth most common crime against Indian women. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. Out of these, 24,470 were committed by relative or neighbour; in other words, the victim knew the alleged rapist in 98 per cent of the cases. According to 2012 statistics, New Delhi has the highest number of rape-reports among Indian cities, while Jabalpur has the per capita incidence of reported rapes. Several rape cases in India received widespread media attention and triggered protests since 2012. This led the Government of India to reform its penal code for crimes of rape and sexual assault. Many minor kids and young women are victims of sexual assault; these days, even old age women are not only robbed but also raped. Let it be a kid or old aged, it is womanhood that is abused.
A judgement made by the Delhi High court in the case of rape and murder of an old woman in December, 2010 has sparked a debate on whether sexual intercourse with a post-menopausal woman can be treated as rape. Menopause is a medical condition, and the mention of the word is extraneous and erroneous. The injuries on the victim’s vagina prove that there was forced penetration, and the inference will lead to the criminal case of rape. Also, the judgement says that there are no other injuries, which is clearly a step back to the pre-Mathura era, where one would look for injuries to prove rape. The Mathura rape case led to two amendments; one, there should not be any requirement about explaining injuries for rape. And secondly, consent should be univocal. This case, to my mind, without the privilege of any evidence to be able to construct the case and thus rely on the judgement, is erroneous and not according to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court.
Contrary to some media reports which state that a man has been acquitted of rape charges simply because the woman had crossed the menopausal age, the actual judgement states more facts that have been ignored. The judgement pertains to an accused Achey Lal in the 2010 rape and murder of a 65-year-old woman who has been acquitted by the Delhi High Court because it was not convinced of the proof and termed the intercourse as “forceful but not forcible”” Achey Lal even if held guilty for causing the offence of Section 376 IPC cannot be held guilty for offence under Section 302 IPC as he neither had any intention nor knowledge that such a forceful act of sexual intercourse would cause the death of the deceased. Consequently he is acquitted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.”
Achey Lal was convicted for causing the offence punishable under Sections 376/302 IPC by the impugned judgement dated September 27, 2011 and vide order dated October 01, 2011 directed him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of ten years and to pay a fine of `5,000/- and in default of payment of fine, to undergo simple imprisonment for one month for offence punishable under Section 376 and to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of `5,000/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo Simple Imprisonment for one month for offence punishable under Section 302 IPC. The case of the prosecution is being based on circumstantial evidence; it has to be ascertained whether the deceased died a natural death or a homicidal death and whether forcible sexual intercourse was committed with her or not.
The judgement nowhere mentions rape is not possible because she is past menopause. But the verdict says exactly the opposite. What it actually reads is that “As regards the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC the deceased was aged around 65-70 years, thus beyond the age of menopause. We find force in the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that even if the sexual intercourse was forceful it was not forcible and contrary to the wishes and consent of the deceased. However, the basis for the judgment which could also be considered as bizarre is that since there were no signs of protest, there was no resistance from the deceased.
The post-mortem of the deceased proves that both Achey Lal and the deceased had consumed alcohol. The forceful penetration is evident from the injuries on the vaginal orifices. However, besides the injuries on the vagina there is no other injury mark on the body of the deceased or on the appellant to show that there was any protest by the deceased. In December 2010, the victim was found dead inside her house in Majnu ka Tila along with an inebriated Achey Lal by a girl at whose house the victim worked. Achey Lal was arrested and eventually sentenced to 10 years of rigourous imprisonment. The post-mortem of the victim revealed that she has sustained injuries on her vagina, and traces of alcohol were found on her, too. Age does not matter in rape; 80-year-olds get raped, too. If the culprit is revengeful and bent on causing maximum harm, the age is a deterrent than. Should the age alone not be considered for any ground? This should lead to more punishment.
Rape is brutal crime towards woman by men; judiciary should take strong steps to reach the justice by severely punishing the culprit.