‘She Was Habituated to Sex’: What Rape Survivors Hear in Court

Even within the boundary walls of a court, survivors have to face the misogyny that plagues our society.

2 min read

For many years now, rape survivors in India have had to deal with an insensitive judicial system in the country.

According to the NCRB data, 24,206 rapes were reported in 2011, which is roughly equivalent to one rape in every 20 minutes. What is even more worrying is that a lot of rape cases go unreported.

The police estimates that only 4 out of 10 rapes are reported, largely because of the deep-rooted conservatism of Indian society, in which many victims are scared to come forward for fear of being “shamed” by their family and community.

Those who do go to the police, face numerous challenges such as hostile cops, a lack of counselling and support, shoddy investigation and weak prosecution.

In this video, we read out some of the worst things that rape survivors have had to hear in court.

Rape trials usually last years, often involving intimidation of victims and witnesses. This invariably leads to dropping of many cases even before judgment.

Even within the boundary walls of the court, survivors are at times subjected to problematic cross-questioning and ridiculous judgments. The cross-questioning usually borders on victim-shaming and often tries to show that the survivor doesn’t have a sharp memory.

Our conditioning is such that if a rape survivor goes to a public space, does not hide her identity or goes about her life as a normal person, then she is not a rape survivor. Because within the judicial imagination, there is a constructed myth of how a rape victim should behave. 
Vrinda Grover, senior lawyer

Justice Verma had in 2013 recommended electoral, police and educational reforms to eliminate this misogyny. However, the implementation has been far from satisfactory as misogyny is still as pervasive in our society.

Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
Abhay Sharma

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