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The Word ‘No’ Doesn’t Need Any Further Explanation Or Justification [READ JUDGMENT]

Himachal Pradesh High Court, while rejecting the bail application of a man who raped a 17-year-old girl, remarked that the word ‘No’ means ‘No’ but somehow it has become very difficult for men to understand

By: Kriti Dubey, Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College

“Women say no when they mean yes.” Do they really or is the rape culture embedded so deep in our society that it is now in the way we think, speak or walk. Rape culture is that social environment that allows sexual violence to be justified fueled by the pervasive gender inequalities and attitude towards gender and sexuality. 

In this case, a woman aged 17 years was waiting for a bus around noon when the accused came in his jeep and asked her to accompany him, she knew the accused and therefore made the decision of going with him. The accused took a detour on the way to a secluded place and started inappropriately touching the victim. The girl clearly said NO but obviously, how can we assume that the accused knew the meaning of the word. The accused asked the victim to stop crying or else he will force himself upon her, he also asked if she will marry him to which the girl replied NO. After this, he undressed the victim and had sexual intercourse with her. After doing so he went to Solan and the victim came home where she informed her mother and later registered the FIR. The accused is in custody since 18th December last year under section 376 of IPC and section 4 of the POSCO act. 

The victim mentioned in her statement made under section 164 of CrPC that the accused was her friend and her taking the lift in his vehicle was proved to the act done in the friendship of which the accused took the defense that the

act done was with “active consent and without any force on her by the accused.” 

It was opined by the court that if the girl would have agreed to the coitus there is no reason for her to reveal it to her mother. She reached her home at a reasonable hour if she wanted to lie, she would have made excuses to come home late. If she wanted it to be discrete, she could have kept it that way but she voluntarily narrated the whole incident to her mother which prima facie points to the genuineness of the incident. It was courageous of her to come forward and report the incident to the police. 

The court further added that in the context of the consent that the curriculum of India does not include the proper sex education; the children raised by such societies fail the women time and again. 

It is often understood that if the woman had consent, there will be no signs of injury on her body but the absence of resistance and the unwilling submission does not define consent in any language.

Her saying NO and the act of the accused not stopping depict the lack of sex education. The court further added that NO means NO might be simple to understand but somehow it has become tough for men to comprehend. The word NO does not mean yes, it does not mean that the girl is shy; it does not mean that the girl needs persuasion. The word No doesn’t need any further explanation or justification. It ends there and the man has to stop. Coming to the case, the victim in no way showed her consent to form any sort of romantic relationship with the accused. 

If given a scientific point of view, the presence of the blood and the semen in the victim’s underwear shows the possibility of unprotected sex. The absence of injuries on the body of the victim can be due to the reason that she was intimated into cooperating with the accused. 

In the end, the court opined that the accused failed to make out a case for bail and hence it got dismissed. However, the court granted liberty to the accused to file a new bail application if there are changed circumstances. 

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