Menopause is no criteria of deciding whether a forcible intercourse can be termed as rape or not.
The Delhi High Court verdict on the rape and murder of a 65 year old woman in December 2010 has triggered a controversy on whether sexual intercourse with a post-menopausal woman can be considered as rape. Women activists are unhappy with the verdict as according to them rape irrespective of a woman’s age is crime. They are questioning about the usage of the word ‘menopause’ in the verdict. At a time, when rape incidents are increasing in the country the Delhi High Court verdict is only turning the clock behind. Already several debates have been held about the need to strengthen the anti-rape laws.
Advocate Abha Singh said, “This is an error of verdict. Menopause is no criteria of deciding whether a forcible intercourse can be termed as rape or not. A rape is rape, at any age. The sentence needs to be appealed against.”
Advocate Sushan Kunjuraman said, “The verdict on this woman will lead to a surge in rape crimes to women falling under this age group which is not a good sign.”
Advocate Rohini Salian said, “This is ridiculous. It is pathetic. Though we should not comment on the judgement of a higher court, it is shocking. This verdict should be challenged in the Supreme Court.”
Varsha Kale, President of Indian Bar girls Association said, “Although I am not aware of this verdict, it is shocking. Even if she is a 65 year old woman, she is still a woman. Women’s group should do something about it. Politicians passing such ridiculous statements are different but a judge doing the same is shocking.”
Shaina NC, BJP Spokesperson said, “This is absolute nonsense. Rape is an assertion of power and I don’t approve of such regressive mindsets.”
The judgement, made by a bench comprising Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mukta Gupta has let off the accused, 49-year-old Achey Lal, waiving off the punishment meted out to the accused on the grounds that even if the intercourse “has been forceful, it was not forcible”.
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.
Jugmati Sangwan of the All India Democratic Women’s Association said that the age of the woman should have, in fact, led to a bigger punishment. “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,” said Sangwan.