Taking a preposterous move, a court in India has ruled that groping children without removing clothes does not constitute a sexual assault. The decision drew outrage across the country with frustrated campaigners battling to address widespread sexual abuse against women and children.
In a judgment, last week, a Bombay High Court judge Pushpa Ganediwala found a 39-year-old man not guilty of sexually assaulting and groping a 12-year-old girl, the reason became known that he had not removed her clothes, meaning there was no skin-on-skin contact.
The man brought the child to his house on the pretext of giving her guava in December 2016. As per the court documents, while there, he touched her chest. Not only that but he also tried to remove her underwear, according to the judgment.
Later, the court found him guilty of sexual assault and sentenced him to three years in prison in a lower court. However, he then appealed to the High Court.
In her judgment on January 19, Justice Ganediwala found that his act “would not fall in the definition of ‘sexual assault,'” which carries a minimum three-year prison term which can be extended to five years.
She wrote, “Considering the stringent nature of punishment provided for the offense, in the opinion of this court, stricter proof and serious allegations are required.”
Although Justice Ganediwala acquitted the accused of sexual assault, she convicted him on the lesser charge of molestation. In addition to this, only sentenced him to one year in prison.
“It is the basic principle of criminal jurisprudence that the punishment for an offense shall be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime,” she said.
Groping children with ‘clothes on’ is not ‘sexual abuse’
After the Bombay High Court decision released, Indians took to social media to question the logic of the court decision. A decision that now sets a new precedent.
Subsequently, other high courts and lower courts around the country will now need to follow the Bombay High Court’s decision. The National Commission for Women said it planned to mount a legal challenge to the judgment.
Sexual assault is a huge, and persistent issue in India. Based on official figures from 2018, the rape of a woman is reported every 16 minutes in India.
Horrible tales of sexual abuse, rape, and torture against women and children are no less in Pakistan. You pick any city or any locality in the country, and there will be several untold cases of sexual abuse.
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments section below.