Chennai: A woman in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, has been forced to marry to a man who is accused of raping and impregnating her when she was a minor. The move, as drastic as it may seem, has not been forced upon her. Yet, it does not appear to have come as a matter of choice for the victim.
On Decmber 29, 2015, the victim reached the Cuddalore Mahila Court along with her daughter born out of the rape and agreed to marry her ‘rapist'. She informed the court that she had married the accused after a settlement and that the two were now living together.
As shocking as it may seem, the woman's decision to marry her ‘rapist' came after a prolonged attempt and repeated failures to get justice.
Her first and unusual brush with the law came when, in a shocking incident in July last year, the Madras High Court referred her case for mediation with her alleged rapist citing religion and its capacity for reconciliation. The move led to a huge public outcry and stoked a major controversy.
The court's suggestion was fiercely contested by the victim. “Did the judge ever think how I suffered all these years? He knew I had a baby from that rape. And now this single order of his wants me to go through that suffering again,” The Indian Express quoted her as saying.
The case dates back to 2008 when the victim's age was all but 15. The cased reached the Cuddalore Mahila Court and the man was convicted and fined Rs 2 lakh in 2014. The conviction was based on evidences that included DNA samples.
What then led the woman to be so disheartened that she agreed to live with the very man who disgraced her? The victim's second brush with the law puts things in context.
In another bizarre move in October, Justice A Selvam of the Madras High Court set aside the man's conviction and the fine imposed on him on grounds that the trial court that convicted him had relied solely on the victim's oral submission regarding her age and had failed to examine documents.
Justice Selvam referred the case back to the lower court for verification of her age and also set aside the man's conviction. This was the man's second appeal in the High Court where he claimed that the girl was a “major” and that they had a “consensual” relationship.
An account narrated by the woman's brother to the daily cited above claims that his sister was “helpless” after the second High Court order that referred her case back to Cuddalore. The court proceedings to verify the authenticity of her birth certificate went on for days, which made her weary.
Also, her brother was struggling without a job, and she probably felt that she was being a burden. Her decision to marry the accused rapist came knowing fully well that he would marry her only to escape conviction.
And he did.