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10-year jail for digital rape

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PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU – JIBY KATAKAYAM

In a case of digital rape, where a 19-year-old used a wooden stick to criminally assault an 80-year-old destitute woman, a Sessions court here on Tuesday awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment to the convict, while exhorting the legislature to expand the definition of rape to include digital rape, male rape, oral rape, anal and rectal rape.

At present, Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code does not define rape to include these kinds of aggravated sexual assaults, while Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which has been partially repealed when homosexuality was decriminalised, deals with the vaguely worded “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.

Sentencing the convict, to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment on three counts of kidnapping, attempt to murder, and rape against the order of nature (Section 377 IPC), Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau observed: “There is growing demand the world over for inclusion of digital rape/ male rape/ oral rape/ anal and rectal rape within the definition of rape. Cases like the present one sometimes reflects the institutional helplessness in appropriately dealing with the crime on account of the lag in law. Section 377 IPC to a large extent does cover cases of carnal intercourse committed by a person against the order of nature, but technically its applicability is limited and by operation it becomes difficult to include cases where the offence has been committed by the offender on another, with an object.”

The victim, who had been abandoned by her family, used to live at a park in north-west Delhi where she survived on the mercy of local residents who gave her food. At 2 a.m. on May 20, 2011, the accused forcefully took her into the nearby bushes and inserted the wooden stick into the private parts and thrust his hand into her mouth to muffle her cries. She was discovered, bloodied and unconscious, by morning walkers at the park who alerted the police and admitted her to a hospital nearby, where she underwent extensive surgery.

The victim identified the accused from among six suspects paraded before her while she was in hospital.

Dr. Lau also pointed law-makers to exhaustive legislation covering all categories of sexual assault enacted by Scotland, Ireland, Australia, US, Victoria and Queensland (both in Australia). “The definition of rape in the Criminal Code of Queensland has been now enlarged to include the instances of digital rape…and the maximum penalty provided for the offences of rape/ digital rape/ oral rape is life.”

Counsel for the Delhi Commission for Women also argued in court that there was no reason why a victim of digital rape should not be treated at par with a victim of rape.

While directing that the victim be lodged at an Old Age Home at Dwarka in October 2011, it had also directed that she be paid old-age pension which, however, has not been released yet owing to red tape. “It is unfortunate that the Government red-tapism spares none, not even a senior citizen destitute. The case of a destitute who is a victim of an aggravated sexual assault is required to be treated at priority at all levels in the government and the insensitivity of the system is appalling,” the court noted. Dr. Lau also directed Delhi to provide Rs.50,000 as compensation to the victim for her medical needs and rehabilitation.

SOURCE –  http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/article2849290.ece

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