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The punishment for being a woman: You will be what man wants you to be

Arvind Jain writes: In Indian society, apart from the social structure, the law also favours men. Men have ownership over women courtesy of the social and legal privileges he enjoys. Here, Arvind Jain analyses the social and legal position of women with respect to men in real life

[Aurat Hone ki Saza is a classic by Arvind Jain. Published by Rajkamal Prakashan, this book has undergone many editions. The author reviews the plight of a woman in Indian society right from the time she is born until her death. Based on various laws and cases, he has established that apart from the social structure, the law also favours men. Given below is the first chapter of the book. We will be serializing the book in English here on the website with a view to eventually publishing the English translation of the book under the Forward Press imprint. -Managing Editor]

I am man – the majestic male, patriarch, the lord, the prophet, the monarch and the ultimate arbiter. I am above everyone and everything has been created only to serve me. In fact, I have designed all institutions – social, religious and political – for my pleasures, sensual or otherwise. I have created the holy scriptures of all faiths. I have authored all norms and diktats of religion, society, economics, politics and justice and only I have privilege of amending and redefining them from time to time. I hold absolute control over home, agriculture, business and factories; cash and property; literature, art and academics and political power and justice. I am the “almighty”, and everyone, irrespective of their faith, worships me.

You! You are woman – my wife, concubine and slave. You “belong” to me. The sole purpose of your existence and your most pious duty is to remain faithful and subservient to me. Be obedient and totally devoted to me and serve me obsequiously and you will be elevated to the status of Sita and Savitri. You will be treated like royalty and you will enjoy all material comforts like clothes and jewellery, and also social status and respect. But if you dare to oppose me, you shall be crushed like a worm. Nobody will come to your aid. No one will sympathize with you. As I have already said, I control all institutions of society – law, government, politics and religion. In fact, these are the weapons I can use to triumph over you on Earth and in heaven. You are merely the “Third World”. Who will strain his ears to hear your pleas?

The mere news of my birth would make my sisters Sumita, Anita and Anamika hang themselves from a ceiling fan[1]. In case you are having second thoughts, bear this clearly in mind, sisters: What do you want to live for? If you ask for equal share in property, I shall persuade our father to marry you off hurriedly. I will have the whole property bequeathed to myself. Surely, you don’t need me to tell you what is in store for you at your in-laws’ place. Don’t clamour for property. You will never get it. Whatever you are given at festivals like Teej, Holi, Diwali, Rakhee, Bhai Dooj or in “Bhaat”, accept it without demur. Otherwise, you won’t even get that. In any case, you don’t have the right to divide the property of the Hindu Joint Family. That is a matter between us men folk.[2]

You are trying to tell me that legally you have an equal share in Father’s property. Big deal! But my dear sisters, that is only when he dies intestate.[3] You must be nuts if you think I will let him die intestate. What will he do in his old age if he does not bequeath his property to me? Beg on the streets? The laws proclaiming your equality are only paper tigers.[4] They do not bother me.

Now, assume for a moment that Father does pass away without executing a will. So what? The moment you demand your share, this socially treasured brother-sister relationship will snap. Forget you brothers forever. Society will condemn you. In the event of father making a will and clandestinely bequeathing even a small part to you, I will not take this grave injustice lying down. I will fight right up to the Supreme Court. Even if it takes 30 years, I will challenge the will on all possible grounds and, in the process, make you suffer indignation and destitution. I have not allowed even my step-brothers to claim equal share in the property. Where do the sisters stand?[5] However, the responsibility of looking after old parents is as much yours as is mine.[6]

‘Aurat Hone ki Saza’, by Arvind Jain

In case you are looking to control me by being my lover, listen, you will only disgrace yourself. You cannot do me any harm. I have studied your psyche in my incarnations of Lombroso, Tomas, Freud, Kingsley, David, Otto Pollak, Adler, Johnson and Hyde. I know you inside out. I will flirt with you, seduce you by my sweet talk, eulogize your beauty and make false promises of marriage, and after satisfying my lust, will disappear, dumping you in some dingy street of an unfamiliar town. You may live with your treasured memories of love. I won’t remember them. If you “cry rape”, the courts will only chastise you. Just sample these golden quotes:

“If a young girl allows sexual intercourse acting on a false promise of marriage and continues to engage in lustful endeavours till she gets pregnant, Section 90, IPC, cannot be used in her aid. The boy alone cannot be held an offender while ignoring the girl’s misadventures.”[7]

“The girl loved the boy, got pregnant and then, got the foetus aborted. The sexual intercourse was therefore, clearly with her consent.”[8]

In any case, a girl becomes public property after the third abortion.[9] Still, it will be in your own interest to get the pregnancy terminated. Otherwise, you will only give birth to an “illegitimate child”, a bastard. He won’t get a dime from my property. And, what on earth can you give him?[10] Thank heavens he can now get admission in a school without disclosing his father’s name[11], but the poor guy will be speechless when his peers pester you with questions – questions about the legitimacy of his birth and consequently, about his existence.

I (we) shall not do anything that will harm the cause of women.[12] But be certain that I can, if I want to. You cannot retaliate. And, you cannot change the law.[13] If you don’t respond to my sexual advances, I will disgrace you whenever I get a chance. Try telling your folks that you have been raped. They will be reluctant to allow you to take the matter to court. After all, it is the question of the family’s reputation and honour. They will ponder over it for weeks and months[14] and then in the court, this delay itself will cast doubt on the veracity of your claim.[15] Whatever you do, wherever you go, I will follow you – if you go to school, as your teacher[16]; if you go for work, as your boss; if you go for treatment, as your doctor[17]; if you go to seek references, as a political leader or a minister, a capitalist, plutocrat or industrialist; if you seek to become an actress, as a director; if go on a pilgrimage, as a priest or a clergyman[18]; and if your go to court, as a lawyer[19]. You have no escape. Whenever you sue me for rape, I will always come out of it unscathed, using one legal argument or the other. But you and your family, watch out!

Shall I tell you how? Listen. I cannot be punished on the basis of only your testimony. That is the law! There will obviously be no eyewitnesses to the incident. Moreover, the police will not register the case immediately on your complaint. And when they eventually will, I still have a hundred ways to stall a fair investigation. They may not have you medically examined; even if this is done, the doctor may not be asked to testify[20], the doctor’s report may not be considered reliable[21]; blood and semen stains may not be found on your clothes[22]; evidence of the assault may not be found on your back, breasts or vagina[23]. And if the doctor’s report records that you are accustomed to sexual intercourse[24], the case will be over in minutes. The rape will be converted to consensual sex and either I will be rewarded with an acquittal honourably, or at worst, I will get the benefit of doubt.

One may wonder how evidence of assault is to be found on the body of a married woman. She would obviously be accustomed to intercourse. In such a case, any defence can be put up, such as: “When she saw someone coming, she cried for help to present herself as a respectable lady or to cover up her misdeeds.”[25] Or that, “She is a characterless vagrant woman or a prostitute or a ‘call girl’.[26] Or, the sex was consensual and took place even with her husband’s connivance.”[27]

If you claim to be underage, that is, below 16 years of age, the onus of proof will be on you[28]. I get the benefit of doubt if your school certificate is not produced in court[29]. Medical determination of age is always an approximation and hence, may not be relied upon. The report of an X-ray or of an ossification test is merely an opinion and not proof[30]. The medical test won’t be considered proof because “it carries a margin of error of three years”[31]. A birth certificate is the only authentic proof of age, but unfortunately (in fact, fortunately), this document is seldom available in this country[32]. Be that as it may, proof of age is a must. You will not be able to prove it and that is the end of your rape charge.

I have encountered a number of such rape cases. In each case, I have been able to avail the services of one or the other eminent criminal lawyer who would defend me using all his legal acumen, notwithstanding the fact of him otherwise adorning the mask of a human rights activist.

No decent, respectable woman would accuse any person of rape, for it would stain her own honour, which she values above anything else in the world.[33] The definition of a “decent, respectable” woman obviously does not include mistresses, prostitutes and call girls, as well as indigent and illiterate women, who live below any “human indignity line”.

It is highly improbable that any self-respecting lady will testify in a court of law that she has been raped, unless it is absolutely true (which is an impossibility)[34]. Respectable women do not disclose it even if they are actually raped. They would rather drown themselves.[35] They don’t make rounds of the courts like you.

What to talk of individual rape, if you make too much of noise and act smart, I shall get you gang-raped in broad daylight in the middle of the street after gathering the whole village to witness it. Taking close-up shots of your anatomy, I will produce movies like Insaaf Ka Tarazu, Mera Shikar and Zakhmi Aurat. The public will throng to cinemas, eager to be titillated by visuals of your bare skin. I will make my millions and you will only suffer humiliation by the public exposure of your feminine modesty.

I don’t intend to stop at this. I will make blue films. I will make money and you will be damned. I will move around haughtily, my head in the air and you will scarcely find a place to hide yourself.

I will publish your nude and semi-nude photos in advertisements, not only of soap and liquor, cigarettes and matchboxes, contraceptives and coconut oil and towels and saris, but even of scooters and cars. I will get huge blow-ups and hoardings made, depicting you in sensuous poses for the purpose of publicity and will print tantalizing details of your most intimate moments in newspapers, magazines and books. They will sell like hot cakes and my millions will be assured. Those who support me by making films like Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Bobby and Ram Teri Ganga Maili will be awarded and honoured. To hell with your IPC Section 292 and other laws against obscenity![36]

The court has already said, “Indecent talk is not obscene!”[37], neither is “printing photos of women obscene!”[38] In any case, nude paintings are considered great art. Even on the walls of Khajuraho and Konark monuments, I have carved statues of you and me in the act of intercourse. What more am I do? Every obscene word that I write about you is read and nothing that is written in the scriptures is obscene.[39]

Now you know, there are “beasts” outside waiting to devour you and even your near and dear ones are beginning to feel like strangers. So now, you yearn to be my wife? You are welcome but you will have to arrange for a huge dowry: five to ten lakh rupees in cash, a car, an air conditioner, television set, furniture, clothes and jewellery. While at it, you may also be advised to bring a five-litre can of kerosene, a kerosene stove and a matchbox. They always come in handy. Besides, you will have to serve me obsequiously for life. In return, you will get the legal guarantee of being treated well for seven years. You will come to realize how bogus and meaningless even this guarantee is.[40] If your parents are unable to afford this dowry, I am afraid you may have no option but to hang yourself from the ceiling fan like Alka, Guddi and Manu of Kanpur did. If you want to live, you will have to fulfil my demands. I won’t be taken in by false promises. In case you do not bring the requisite dowry, I can’t say how long you will live. I may be constrained to douse you with kerosene and set you afire. I may have no choice. After all, I am the only son of my parents and if I don’t carry out their wishes, they might disown and disinherit me. What can I do? I’ll have to sadly declare that your sari caught fire while you were heating milk on the stove. If your parents and siblings create a nuisance, I’ll first try to persuade and convince them in my own way. Within a month, your younger sister will be at my house as my new bride.[41] But if they don’t agree, it is their choice. This doesn’t bother me. They are free to make rounds of the police stations and the courts. I know how to fix the police witnesses and medical reports. I will manage bail on the same day and acquittal, in due course. God forbid, in the worst scenario, appeals to the High Court and Supreme Court can easily be dragged on for years together. Meanwhile, I’ll remarry, collect a huge dowry once again, and live comfortably. Even if your chums in those women’s organizations and idiotic newspapers succeed in having me sentenced for life, I can always make the files disappear before the sentence is executed. You have no idea how many files of the Sudhas and Shashis like you are gathering dust.[42] Tell me even one case to date where someone has been actually hanged for bride burning. [43]

Since you are my wife, I have the legal right to make love to you at any time and in any manner. Your willingness, consent, likes and dislikes are of little consequence. I am the sole authority to decide when, where and how. You can’t get away by denying me this privilege even on grounds of illness, menstruation or pregnancy. Since you are above 15, I shall be within my legal rights to even force myself on you. No court can prosecute me for this.[44] Personal liberty! What? You should have thought of these lofty ideals before marriage. After marriage, your so-called fundamental right of personal freedom is hypothecated to me. No use creating nuisance on this score! Get up and submit yourself to me.

A painting that depicts a patriarchal society

Come on, you have married me and so you have to devotedly perform you wifely duties. You are supposed to produce heirs to my property. If you deliver sons, you shall be considered fortunate and honoured as “Laxmi”. Your sisters-in-law will ceremoniously announce your accomplishments from the housetop with the beating of drums, followed by distribution of sweets. But if you produce daughters, you will be branded as inauspicious. Celebrations? Only whores celebrate the birth of a daughter. I for one, will either strangulate or bury her, or drown her in the Ganga. Now, just have amniocentesis done and determine the sex of the foetus. If it is a female foetus, one can get it aborted and avoid all future tensions. There is no difficulty whatsoever. But in case you are unable to bear any child – male or female – succumb to the accusations for your barrenness or there is always the well or the pond … I will get any number of women to produce an heir.

I can even adopt my brother’s son or anybody’s for that matter. But during my lifetime, you cannot. I have made no provision for this in the law relating to adoption. You can have this privilege only if I divorce you or I become a lunatic or renounce the world[45], which, I certainly don’t intend to. I will decide whether to adopt a child solely on the basis of my own whims and fancies. Who are you to dictate to me? You come into the picture only for the purpose of giving your consent, in case I decide to adopt.[46] What can you do if I decide not to? Don’t live under any pretensions. I can dispose of all my property by way of a will, leaving you with a begging bowl. There will be nobody to look after you at the dusk of your life and even to cremate you after your death. Who will immerse your mortal remains in the holy Ganga? Who will perform the annual rites so that your soul can rest in peace?

Coming back to the point, even if a daughter is born, I will deny her good food and clothing. The privilege belongs only to my sons. The daughter is ordained to perform the household chores; doing the dishes, washing the clothes and dusting and cleaning the house. If she does the job well, she will be fed. If not, she will starve. There is no question of her seeking education. Sons, on the other hand, are supposed to fly kites, play cricket, eat, sleep, study and make merry.

I will get the daughter married off at a tender age, before she comes to her senses, for there is always the fear that she might disgrace the family when she grows up. “Child Marriage Prohibition Act”, my foot![47] If she resists, I will offer her as a devdasi to a priest at a temple.[48] If she announces her intention to leave, I will disgrace her saying that she was characterless and had eloped with her lover[49], and will hail “dharma”! I will not let her read and write – there is no use dreaming about school, college and university.[50]

You are my wife and should behave like one. You will have to live the way I want you to and wherever I want you to. First and foremost, the duty of a wife is to submit herself to her husband’s wishes and live in a house provided by him and under his protection.[51] You have no right to live separately without a good reason – till I declare that I am unable (or unwilling!) to maintain you. In case you still insist on your ways, I will have the court rule that you should stay with me.[52] I will not allow you to obtain a divorce easily and obviously you cannot remarry until you get a divorce. By the time you eventually get it, you will be too old to remarry. In any case, a man likes to marry only virgin spinsters. Widowed, divorced and “second hand” women are good-for-nothings, save a temporary sensual enjoyment. Now, even if you do succeed in getting a divorce, I will not allow you custody of children above 5 years of age.[53] You can have custody only of your illegitimate children. Legitimate sons and daughters are my responsibility and as such I have absolute rights over their affairs and to take all decisions affecting them.[54] You are only meant to produce them, rear them and forget about them. If the children side with you, I will disinherit them. I can be a father only to virtuous children. The unworthy ones have no place in my house.

Law allows me to freely seek pleasure in the company of any unmarried, widowed or divorced woman, but you cannot have relationship with any man except me.[55] If you do, I will have the man arrested under IPC Section 494 and obtain divorce from you. Besides, the public will chastise you, branding you characterless, and throw stones at you. Because “all pretty women in the world are made for me. But I shall not tolerate any body eyeing my womenfolk. I’ll gouge out their eyes.”[56] Get it? Of course with my consent, you can always have an affair even with a stranger. I will ignore it till it suits me. You, on the other hand, have no right to object to my affairs with other women, even if you wish to. You have to bear it silently and you’d better do so. Law does not give you the right to complain of adultery. In any case, there can be no charge of adultery if the other woman is single.

You can cause me no harm. You cannot prosecute me under IPC Section 497. At the most, you can seek divorce under Section 13A of the Hindu Marriage Act citing voluntary sexual intercourse outside wedlock. You are welcome to do so. Divorce is a curse or a punishment for you, not for me. For me, it is good riddance. If you demand maintenance allowance, you will, at the most, get five hundred rupees a month, which is a pittance.[57] And that too after years of running around in the courts. It’s fine by me. I don’t mind sparing this amount. It’s nothing compared to expense I’ll incur if you live with me.

If an unmarried woman, a widow or a divorcee conceives through me, I will have the foetus aborted. If she is a working woman and decides to deliver the child, I will make sure she gets maternity leave. She will legitimately give birth to my illegitimate child. Whatever is legitimate, proper and legal is mine. All that is illegitimate, improper and illegal belongs to you.

You have tried challenging the Constitutional validity of law regarding adultery. What have you and the lawyers championing your cause achieved?[58]

I was aware that after marriage, and after the birth of the children, I would get bored and tired of you. I have therefore made provision – prostitutes, concubines and call girls. I can live a promiscuous life, squander money, without a blot on my chastity. I can hire a pretty woman to satisfy my lust whenever and wherever I want to. I can enjoy her and then forget her and return home clean and spotless. This does not affect my respectability or status in the society.

I have mastered the art of seducing girls who are above 18 – by offering them narcotic drugs, saris, jewellery, meals at five-star hotels and wads of currency notes. If the police nab a call girl or a cabaret dancer, I can easily get away claiming that she indulged in prostitution out of her own free will. What could I have done about it? As far as girls below 18 are concerned, she is an orphan – eloping with her is not a “kidnapping” offence.[59] Only those who have guardians need to be protected. And once she reaches my den, there is no way to escape. I know all the intricacies and also the loopholes of law.

Now, what is this great idea of becoming a prostitute just to assert your personal liberty? Who says prostitutes are free individuals?[60] I have built legal superstructures even around them.[61] A single woman is free to indulge in prostitution in order to earn her livelihood[62] but I have made it an offence for two or more women to conduct flesh trade in an organized manner[63]. You see, if they organize themselves, they will form unions, talk of their “rights”, stage demonstrations and be a nuisance for the government. That is why the need to frame laws even against their associates and people living off their earnings. It is better if they work in isolation. An unattached woman can be used, abused, misused whenever and in whatever way one desires. Nobody shall come to her rescue. Moreover, if they are decently spaced out in the city, they won’t look like a heap of filth like they do when they are concentrated at one place. Everything will continue to look normal. I will keep on earning my fortune as the brothel owner and savouring your beauty as you client. If there is a police raid, you are the one who will be apprehended (the law cannot touch the client).[64] You will have to offer bribes to the police. Besides, they will brutally rape you while you are kept in custody overnight. Try prosecuting them for rape. The moment it is proved that you are engaged in flesh trade, rape will turn into consensual intercourse and the police officer will be immediately acquitted.[65] Who will listen to you? Everyone looks down on such women who become prostitutes for a short while but respects those women who are lifelong prostitutes.[66]

I will have people hold a strike against anybody you share your story with and have those concerned set up an inquiry commission. If you approach Rajlakshmi, I will have her framed in corruption charges and set the stage for a CBI investigation. The officer you hurl charges of molestation against will be honoured with awards. Let your feminist scribes and the intellectuals keep submitting petitions and memoranda to the President.

It is my world! You will have to live the way I want you to. You have no individual identity. If you try to reason with me or, worse still, try to stop me, I can have you declared a lunatic. You will be condemned to an asylum for life. Even if I don’t succeed in confining you to a lunatic asylum, I will create a situation at home that will drive you to total disillusionment. You will be driven to commit suicide and I will declare that you did so out of dejection caused by your mental illness. It is only if your still show the mettle to live that I – or my hired professional goons – will be constrained to kill you. If the long arm of the law reaches me, defending myself with the help of small lies won’t be difficult. I will say you had an illicit affair with somebody; on seeing you in a compromising position with him, I fired at you out of “sudden and grave provocation”[67]. You succumbed to the shot while your lover fled. In all probability, the “murder-specialist” lawyers will help me wriggle out of this situation. Even if they don’t fully succeed, I cannot be hanged. The maximum punishment I will get is imprisonment for ten years. For that too, I can seek clemency from the President or the Governor.[68]

If you live with me, you will have to die with me – that is, commit “sati” by throwing yourself on my pyre. If you do so, your memory will be immortalized. Splendid temples will be built in your honour. You will be worshipped and annual celebrations will be held at the spot. Accommodation will be reserved for you in the Heaven. But if you shy away, you will have to renounce the world. Widows live in “ashrams in Brindavan and not in society, mingling with normal people. The choice is yours.

If you are telling me that burning a woman “alive” on her husband’s pyre is a criminal offence[69], she can be first killed and then burnt or buried. Otherwise, she can be immersed (drowned) in the holy Ganga along with her husband’s corpse. This way, the religious dictates of “sati” can be obeyed without offending the law. Even their lawyer will always remain prosperous – Lakshmi will reside in his house – and three generations of his will successively rule this nation.[70]

You cannot win against the divine fiat. If you don’t stop clamouring and your sympathizers keep talking about human rights, I shall unleash those fiery scribes and editors known for their ferocious teeth of orthodoxy, who will pounce on you and tear you to pieces. So better shut up and continue to take it all lying down as you have done for ages.


[1] 10 March 1989; Three sisters committed suicide when they heard about the birth of their brother

[2] In the Mitakshara school of Hindu law, only the son (s) can inherit property

[3] Hindu Succession Act 1956, Section 8

[4] Women Laws on Paper: Bhagwati, The Times of India, 1988. “Most family property is willed to the sons and the sisters silently suffer this legal injustice.”

[5] All India Reporter (AIR) 1987 Supreme Court 1616, “The definition of son and daughter in Hindu Succession Law, Section 15 (1) (A) does not include stepson and stepdaughter.”

[6] The Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 125 (1) (D) assigns the parents’ upkeep to their sons. The Supreme Court has said in one of its verdicts that the daughters cannot be left out of this obligation

[7] Jayanti Ram Panda, 1984, Criminal Law Journal, 1535 (Calcutta)

[8] Moinul Miya, 1984, Criminal Law Journal (NOC 28 Guwahati)

[9] ‘Sansad Se Sadak Tak’, Dhoomil, p 1

[10] Hindu Succession Act 1956, Section 3 (1)(j) says “related” means related by legitimate kinship but illegitimate children shall be deemed to be related to their mothers.

[11] The Supreme Court issued a show-cause notice to the government on a petition filed by prostitutes. The main issue in the petition was that schools don’t admit prostitutes’ children because they don’t know their fathers’ names. This notice led to the Delhi administration telling schools that fathers’ names are not mandatory for admission.

[12] ‘Rape Law Unsympathetic to Victim’, Usha Rai, The Times of India, 8 March 1989; The report contains the Supreme Court Chief Justice’s assurance to women’s organizations on Suman Rape Case

[13] Former law minister Ashok Sen’s comment during the hearing of the Supriya murder case. The Times of India, 10 March 1989

[14] Harpal Singh 1981, Supreme Court Cases (Criminal), 208

[15] 17 Criminal Law Journal 150, 81, Punjab Law Reporter, 194

[16] AIR 1857 Orissa 78 and 63, Punjab Law Reporter 546

[17] Flattery Case 1877 (2), QBD 410

[18] Yaduram 1972, Criminal Law Journal (1464), Jammu & Kashmir

[19] Indrasingh Sharma, a lawyer at the Tis Hazari Court, accused of raping a 19-year-old female client (The Times of India, 20 March 1988). Earlier, there was a case against Rao Harnarayan, the famous lawyer from Gurgaon (Haryana) over the charge of rape of his female servant. 1957 Punjab Law Reporter (Justice Tekchand’s judgment on bail) and AIR 1958 Punjab 273 (judgment on contempt of court) are important. It is noteworthy that the journalist who had exposed this murder had to pay a fine as required by the law. See ‘Balatkar: Pida ki Haar’ (Rape: The Defeat of Pain), Arvind Jain, Chauthi Duniya, 27 March – 2 April 1988

[20] A 13-year-old girl was raped. There was no medical examination, doctor wasn’t summoned to court to testify and the accused was released. 1978 Chand Law Reporter (Criminal) Delhi-91

[21] 80 Punjab Law Reporter 232

[22] 1977 Criminal Law Journal 185 (Jammu & Kashmir)

[23] 82 Punjab Law Reporter 220

[24] 1980 Chand Law Reporter 108 (Punjab and Haryana) AIR 1977, Supreme Court 1307, AIR 1979, Supreme Court 185

[25] AIR 1927 Lahore 858, AIR 1942 Madras 285

[26] According to the Indian Evidence Act, Section 155 (4) has a provision that says when a man is accused of rape, it is necessary to prove that the victim is of immoral character to dismiss a witness as being not credible.

[27] Pratap Mishra Vs State, AIR 1977 Supreme Court 1307: Three men raped Premila Kumari Rawat, a pregnant woman, who miscarried 4-5 days later. Because injury marks couldn’t be found, the Supreme Court ruled that the sex was consensual and had the husband’s approval

[28] AIR 1939, Allahabad 708

[29] 1979 Rajasthan Criminal Cases 357

[30] Kudrat vs State, AIR 1939, Allahabad 708

[31] 1977 (2) Rajasthan Criminal Cases 206

[32] AIR 1958, Supreme Court 143

[33] Rafique vs State, 1980 (4), Supreme Court cases 262

[34] AIR 1923, Lahore 297

[35] 19 Criminal Law Journal 155

[36] Rajakpur vs State, AIR 1980 Supreme Court 258, 615

[37] Samaresh Bose vs Amal Mitra 1985 (4) Supreme Court 289

[38] Farzana Bi vs Censor Board 1983, Allahabad Law Journal 1133

[39] Indian Penal Code Section 292, exception

[40] Indian Penal Code Section 304B and Indian Evidence Act Section 113B

[41] ‘Younger daughter given in marriage to elder daughter’s murderer’, Jansatta, 26 June 1988, p 3

[42] Chauthi Duniya, 17-23 January 1988. Sunday Observer, 27 March 1988, Ganga, January 1989 and Supreme Court cases 1985 (4), p 476 and Brides are not for Burning, Ranjana Kumari, Radiant Publishers, 1989

[43] Virbhan Singh vs State, AIR 1983 Supreme Court 1002, Kailash Kaur vs State, AIR 1987, Supreme Court, Laxmi Devi vs State, AIR 1988 Supreme Court 1785, and others. Read Women, Law and Social Change in India, Indu Prakash Singh, Radian Publishers 1989

[44] Indian Penal Code Section 375 cites an exception that if the wife is not younger than 15, then sexual intercourse with her cannot be considered rape. According to the Hindu Marriage Act Section 5 (III), the bridegroom must be 21 and the bride must be 18

[45] Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, Section 8

[46] Ibid, Section 6

[47] ‘Roke Nahin Rukte Baal-Vivaha’, Ashok Sharma, Ravivariya Jansatta, 17 April 1988, p 4

[48] ‘Jain Dharma aur Baaldiksha’, Indradev, Nai Sadi, May 1988, p 4; ‘Dharma Guruo ki Haiwaniyat ka Doosra Naam hain Baaldiksha’, Chauthi Duniya, 1-7 January 1989, p 7; ‘Kam Umra Bachhio ko Jabran Banaya Jata hain Saadhvi’, Dainik Vishwamitra, 10 May 1987

[49] ‘The Runaway Nun’, India Today, 31 January 1987, p 89

[50] ‘Shocking Death’, Sunday Mail, 18-24 October 1987

[51] AIR 1966, Madhya Pradesh 212

[52] Indian Marriage Act, Section 9; According to AIR 1983, Andhra Pradesh 356, this provision violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. But when this High Court judgment was appealed, the Supreme Court overruled it

[53] Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956, Section 6

[54] Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956, Section 8

[55] Indian Penal Code Section 497 defines adultery as establishing sexual relationship with another man’s wife without his approval or involvement. See Arvind Jain’s writing on this subject in Chauthi Duniya, 28 February-5 March 1988

[56] ‘Aadmi ki Nigaha mein Aurat’, Rajendra Yadav, Saptahik Hindustan 1989, p 23

[57] The Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 125

[58] Saumitra Vishnu vs Government of India, AIR, 1985, Supreme Court 1618

[59] Indian Penal Code Section 125

[60] ‘Aadmi ki Nigaha mein Aurat’, Rajendra Yadav, Saptahik Hindustan, 12 March 1989

[61] Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956

[62] Ratanmala Case, AIR 1962, Madras-31

[63] Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956, Section 2 (F)

[64] See ‘Kanun bhi Veshya ko hi Satata he’, Arvind Jain, Madhur Kathayen, June 1988, p 77

[65] Mathura Case, Suman Rape Case 1989 (1), Scale 199 and Pardiya Rape, Hindustan Times, 13 March 1988

[66] ‘Kreutzer Sonata’, Leo Tolstoy

[67] There have been many murder cases, in which on the basis Indian Penal Code, Section 300, Exception (1), citing illicit sexual relations, those convicted have been awarded lesser sentence

[68] The president and the governor have granted pardons on several cases under the Indian Constitution Article 72

[69] A section of the Sati (Prevention) Act

[70] AIR 1914 Allahabad 249 – A sati case in which Pandit Motilal Nehru represented the guilty. See Hans, November 1987, p 86

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The Case for Bahujan Literature

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The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

The Case for Bahujan Literature

Mahishasur: A people’s hero

Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History

Mahishasur: Mithak wa Paramparayen

The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

About The Author

Arvind Jain

Arvind Jain (born 7 December 1953) is an advocate in the Supreme Court. He is known for his writing centred on 'women, society and the law in India'. 'Aurat hone ka Saja', 'Uttaradhikar Banam Putradhikar', 'Nyayachetrey Anayachetrey', 'Yaun Hinsa Aur Nyaya ki Bhasha' and 'Aurat: Astitva aur Asmita' are his thought-provoking works on women and the law. He has also published a collection of short stories, 'Lapata Ladki'. He is a member of the expert committee set up by the Government of India for drafting a Bill to tackle crime against children. He was awarded 'Sahityakaar Sammaan' (by the Delhi government) in the year 1999-2000 and 'Rashtriya Shamsher Sammaan' in the year 2001