March 10, 2011


Hindustan Times

Minor’s willingness is not consent for sex, says high court

The willingness of a minor, classified as a person below 18 years of age, is not considered as consent for sexual intercourse under the law, ruled the Bombay high court while upholding the conviction of a 37-year-old man from Latur district who raped a minor girl. In 1997, the then Class 10 student, aged between 15 and 16 years, met Bhima Sontakke, who made false promises of marriage to her. In October 1997, Sontakke took her to various places and allegedly had intercourse with her.
Acting on a complaint lodged by the victim’s father in November 1997, the Latur police arrested Sontakke. In August 1999, a local court convicted him for various offences including rape and kidnapping, and sentenced him to five years of rigorous imprisonment.

Sontakke appealed before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court contending that the girl had willingly come with him, and since they engaged in consensual sex, he should not have been convicted of rape and kidnapping.

Justice SS Shinde, however, refused to oppose the trial court’s stand on the matter. The trial court asserted that since the girl was a minor at the relevant time, her willingness could not be termed as consent.

Shinde took into consideration that despite being married, the convict made false promises of marriage to the girl to have sexual intercourse with her.
The court upheld Sontakke’s conviction for kidnapping saying that the consent of a minor cannot be used as a defence in kidnapping cases.


Times of India

Budget allocation cuts relief for rape victims

MUMBAI: After the celebrations for International Women's Day, here's some grim news. Despite the rising number of rapes in the country there has been a mind-boggling reduction in the budget for the relief and rehabilitation of rape victims over the years. The budget allocation for the welfare of rape victims has been slashed by nearly 85% from the previous financial year.

A comparison of budget estimates over the years shows that the allocation for the relief and rehabilitation of rape victims has fallen from Rs 53.30 crore in the 2009-10 Union budget to Rs 36.2 crore in 2010-11 to a mere Rs 7.5 crore in the 2011-12 budget outlays. Analysts say with basic medical care for a rape victim costing around Rs 1,000 daily in a city like Mumbai, the current budgetary allocations are grossly inadequate.

Researchers on women's issues say the slash is unwarranted given that the number of rapes in the country has been steadily on the rise . Over 21,397 women in the country were raped in 2009 alone, the latest year for which the National Crime Records Bureau provides statistics. The figure is believed to be conservative at best, given the under-reporting of such crimes.

Sangeeta Rege, senior researcher at CEHAT (Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes) says the paltry expenditure on the welfare of rape victims is a matter of serious concern. "An analysis of the government's expenditure on the relief and rehabilitation of rape victims in 2009 shows that only Rs 9 lakh of the budget was spent, which amounts to around Rs 42 per rape victim. This will not even provide for a victim's daily dose of medication. The budget reduction since then makes one wonder how less will the government spend?'' Rege says CEHAT research showed them that basic medical care for a rape victim costs around Rs 1,000 per day in a city like Mumbai.

There seems to be a lack of clarity on compensatory relief for rape. Senior officials from the ministry of women and child development told TOI that rape victims could file for compensation under section 357A of the CrPC. They said schemes for the rehabilitation of rape victims were awaiting final approvals. Asked about the poor spending of budget allocations, officials said the funds were channelised on a need basis.

Women researchers said that rape victims were often completely unaware about provisions for financial redressal. Explaining that the reduced fund-allocation is usually due to gross under-utilization of allocated funds in the previous year, head of economics at the SNDT Women's university Vibhuti Patel says the budget slash indicated rape victims or potential recipients such as the police, women's groups or remand homes were unaware about the availability of funding. "It could also be due to the non-formation of schemes to channelize funds,'' she said.

Following Supreme Court directives, the National Commission for Women had drawn up a scheme to provide restorative justice to rape victims by means of a compensatory fund, way back in 2005. After much deliberation, it was recently proposed that rape victims would receive financial assistance of Rs 20,000 and restorative support services upto Rs 50,000, but that scheme too still awaits implementation.

The reduced allocations are just another indication of victims getting short shrift. Lakshmi Lingam, professor of women's studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences says the government seems to lack direction on how to handle the issue of sexual violence against women.

No comments: