Kerala Woman Severs ‘Rapist’ Swami’s Penis: Can Law Protect Her?
A file photo of an anti-rape candle march. image used for represenational purpose. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
A file photo of an anti-rape candle march. image used for represenational purpose. (Photo: The Quint)

Kerala Woman Severs ‘Rapist’ Swami’s Penis: Can Law Protect Her?

On Friday night, a 23-year-old Kerala woman called the police and informed them that she had cut off the sexual organs of a 54-year-old swami after he allegedly tried to rape her. She called it an act of vengeance and self-defence.

The parents of the woman were followers of the swami, who has his ashram at Padmana in Kollam, Kerala. The act, which soon made headlines in the country, was lauded by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Vijayan said in Thiruvanathapuram on Saturday:

The girl took a brave step. I appreciate what she has done.

Also Read: Kerala Woman Cuts Off Penis of ‘Godman’ Who Allegedly Raped Her

The Only Way Out For Her: Kerala Cop

A Kerala police inspector also commented and saw the act as perhaps the only escape the woman could think of.

She knew that no one would believe her if she had said that she had been sexually assaulted by a man of God. So, this was perhaps the only way she could think of.  
Circle Inspector of Pettai station in Thiruvanathapuram

Also Read: 4 Yrs Post Nirbhaya: 5 Ways You Can Change the Dialogue on Rape

All Swamis Should Be Kept Under Close Scrutiny: Kamini Jaiswal

The alleged rapist, Hari alias Ganeshananda Theerthapada Swami, had reportedly been abusing the woman for the past eight years. This means that the woman was a minor when the abuse started.

Speaking to The Quint, Supreme Court lawyer Kamini Jaiswal described the alleged abuse as “horrendous”.

This is a horrendous incident since she was a minor when the abuse started. I don’t think she will be tried at all. She is protected not only under POSCO, but also under IPC Section 376.

Jaiswal also spoke of the government’s inability to curb crimes against women.

All swamis and their ashrams should be kept under close scrutiny for such activities. You hear of goings on in ashrams all the time and people with blind faith refuse to see reality and continue worshipping these fellows. The same way as all NGOs are being investigated, an investigation should be conducted in the case of each and every ashram.

Battered Women’s Syndrome Can Be Used as Defence: Karuna Nundy

Another SC lawyer, Karuna Nundy, told The Quint that a person under the threat of rape has a right to private defence.

When somebody is attacked or facing an attempt to murder or rape, there is a right to private defence. Battered Women’s Syndrome is recognised as delayed private defence in many jurisdictions. In some cases, it’s a complete defence and the person is acquitted.
Karuna Nundy

Battered Women’s Syndrome is a mental disorder developed in victims of long-term abuse. This condition has both physical and psychological implications, and can be used as defence in this case.

What Does the Law Say

Currently, a case been registered against the Swami under Section 376 (rape) of the IPC and under sections of POCSO.

As Nundy pointed out, Battered Women’s Syndrome can make for a defence argument too. Additionally, Sections 96 to 106 of the IPC also deal with right to private defence of person and property and allow provisions for “the purpose of protecting one’s own body and property as also another’s body and property when immediate aid from the state machinery is not readily available and in so doing he is not answerable in law for his deeds”.

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