A Delhi Court has observed that a woman exercising her sexual autonomy through a willful sexual relationship with her partner cannot be presumed to have given her consent for violation of reproductive rights.
Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Gogne observed that ‘exercise of sexual choices by a woman does not give any right to her partner to sexually exploit her and that she does not forsake her rights including reproductive rights when she enters in a sexual relationship with her partner.’
A Delhi court was hearing a bail application of a man accused of raping a woman on multiple occasions forcibly and allegedly making her undergo abortions on three occasions. The woman was then eight months pregnant for the fourth time alleging that he used to beat her up. Denying bail in the said case, the court said,
While parties in a consensual relationship may be on an even keel when sexual relations are of a consistent and long duration, the act of contravening reproductive autonomy through multiple pregnancies and abortions takes away the element of consent which may have been given for the sexual act itself.
The court added,
A woman exercising bodily/sexual autonomy through a wilful sexual relationship cannot be additionally presumed to have also given consent for violation of reproductive rights. If an accused proceeds to continue sexual relations with the end or associated allegation of causing abortion, the consent for the sexual act itself is vitiated.
The Court said that it has attempted to understand the allegations from the perspective of a traumatised complainant who is not only alleging rape but also is battling odds to sake her identity as a single mother, reported Livelaw.
It was therefore observed that the accused appeared to have committed both sexual exploitation and violation of reproductive rights of the woman. The court said,
The exercise of sexual choices by a woman does not vest any corresponding right in the partner to sexually exploit her. The woman does not forsake her other rights, including reproductive rights either when she enters into a sexual relationship with a partner.
In view of the apparent battered plight of the complainant, the plea (of the accused) regarding a consensual relationship having turned sour, as a basis for false allegations of rape, is to be rejected.
While it may be a subject of trial and be debatable whether the complainant was under any misconception of fact regarding marriage with the accused, it is not in doubt, in a prima facie view that she certainly did not submit her consent for the sexual relationship for suffering multiple abortions and a permanent detriment to her future reproductive rights.
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