On 15 July 2016, a “victim” married the man accused of her rape in Bhubaneswar, India. Since the man is still under trial, the marriage took place inside the prison.
This sort of news is nothing unusual at this point. Increasingly we are seeing reports of women accusing their ex-boyfriends of rape. They claim that they were lured into a physical relation under the false promise of marriage. In India, consent obtained under false pretexts is not considered valid.
You see, although India is rapidly liberalizing, pre-marital sex is still a big deal here for many. So once a man has sex with a woman, many women would expect him to eventually propose. With arising awareness about India’s strict rape laws, many women are finding a convenient legal weapon to enforce this traditional expectation. Pro-men’s rights activist Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj has said, “Everyone is telling women about their legal rights today. It’s blaring out of television, radio, the Internet, advertisements, chat shows, everywhere. This has led to more use and misuse of the law.”
It may be true that many men actually entice women into a physical relationship using false promises. But it also traps men in abusive relationships. The burden of proof that consent was obtained lies on the man, while a woman can retroactively withdraw consent after she is dumped.
Back to the woman who married her rapist, she was quoted as saying that she would withdraw the complaint as the man has now married her. The marriage took place with the approval of the additional district and sessions court, so it is unlikely that she will be held responsible for wasting public resources.
She was also quoted saying that she was optimistic about having “a smooth marital life”. I am sure she would, since now she holds the leash to her husband’s collar.