SC wants to change attitude towards sexual assault victims

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New Delhi, Jul 20 (UNI) Expressing its anguish over the increasing incidents of sexual assault on women and rape in particular, the Supreme Court has lamented over the duplicacy of social attitude towards such victims.

A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasyat and P Sathasivam in their judgement pronounced last week noted, ''Of late crime against women in general and rape in particular is on the increase.

''It is an irony that while we are celebrating women's right in all spheres, we show little or no concern for her honour. It is a sad reflection of the attitude of indifference of the society towards the violation of the human dignity of the victims of sex crime.

''We must remember that a rapist not only violate the victims' privacy and personal integrity but inevitably causes serious psychological as well as physical harm in the process.'' The apex court ruled that the testimony of a rape victim needs no corroboration and the conviction can be based on the sole statement of the victim if it is convincing and satisfactory.

The bench noted, ''In the Indian setting, refusal to act on the testimony of the victim of the sexual assault in the absence of corroboration as a rule is adding insult to injury.

''A girl or a woman in the tradition bound non-permissive society of India, would be extremely reluctant even to admit that any incident that is likely to reflect on her chastity had ever occurred.'' The judges while ruling that such crime against women deserve to be dealt with an iron hand noted, ''Judicial response to human rights violations can not be blunted by legal jugglery. The use of corroborative evidence is fossil formula.'' They also noted, ''It is a rarity that a victim and her family member gather the courage to lodge a rape case. Further more, if the totality of the circumstances appearing on the records of the cases discloses that the victim does not have a strong motive to falsely implicate a person, the court should not hesitate to accept her version without any evidence.'' The apex court also said if a doctor finds no signs of rape or sexual assault on the victim, even then the sole testimony of the prosecutrix can not be disbelieved and discarded.

UNI SC SW KN1159

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