Delhi Court Says Woman Exercising Sexual Autonomy Doesn’t Mean She’s Given Consent To Violate Her Reproductive Rights
Consent is a concept that many men do not understand, especially in India. And that is majorly because either they are incapable of handling rejections or they’re brought up with the patriarchal notion that men are to dictate every aspect of a woman’s life. More often than not, men seem to believe that once a woman has agreed to be in a consensual relationship with them, they then don’t have to ask for consent anymore. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is that in every aspect of a consensual relationship, including sexual autonomy, consent doesn’t mean that she has given him consent to violate her reproductive rights as well. This is not just me saying it, it is the judgment passed by the Delhi Court. And I have to say, I agree!
The Delhi Court while denying bail to a man who was accused of raping a woman on multiple occasions and making her undergo abortions on three occasions, observed that woman exercising sexual autonomy doesn’t mean that she has given consent to her partner to violate her reproductive rights. When the case came to the court, the woman was pregnant for the fourth time and alleged the man beat her.
The Sessions Judge Vishal Gogne of Delhi Court also observed that a woman’s choice of exercising sexual choices does not also mean that the partner can sexually exploit her and that she has given up her rights—including reproductive rights— to her partner when she enters a sexual relationship with him.
According to LiveLaw, the Delhi Court, in its judgment, stated, “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… 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.”
Also Read: Victim’s Past Sexual Experience Is Not Relevant To Consent, Observes Delhi Court In A Rape Case. We Agree!
The Delhi Court, in hearing the bail case for the accused, said that the court has made attempts to understand the perspective of the traumatized woman that has not only accused the man of rape but also of beating her up. The court also recognized that the woman is battling tough circumstances in the midst of this all to find her identity as a single mother. And so, the Delhi Court found the accused guilty of having sexually exploited the woman and violating a woman’s reproductive rights.
While dismissing the plea for bail, the Delhi Court observed, “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 has 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.”
Also Read: Exclusive: Artist Indu Harikumar Talks About Understanding Consent In Modern Dating Through Her Body And Sex Positive Art Series
The fact that the Delhi Court made it loud and clear that a woman’s rights remain her rights even after she has given consent to enter a sexual relationship sends a strong message to all men out there who think that when a woman agrees to be in a sexual relationship with them, they can do whatever they want with her. A woman doesn’t become their partner’s property just because they chose to be sexually involved with them. Men really need to learn to respect women’s boundaries and understand the limitations of consent.