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‘Woman’s consent for sexual act doesn’t mean forsaking reproductive rights’: Delhi court on forced abortion

The court denies bail to a man accused of raping a woman several times and forcing her to abort.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
October 6, 2021 1:17:30 pm

A Delhi court ruled that a woman exercising sexual autonomy through consent cannot be additionally presumed to have also consented for violation of her reproductive rights while denying bail to a man accused of raping a woman several times and forcing her to abort.

Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Gogne, who passed the order on September 30, observed, “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.”

The woman had alleged that the accused befriended her on Facebook and forcibly made sexual relations with her. She alleged that the accused raped her on multiple occasions and forced her to abort. She was pregnant for the fourth time when she was assaulted by the accused following which an FIR was filed in the case.

The court observed that even though the counsel for the accused did not make insensitive arguments but sought to “ride the applicant home on bail on the back of the sexual autonomy” of the survivor.

“This is a flawed construction of the concept of bodily/sexual autonomy of a person/female. 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,” court said.

The court said that the accused had committed sexual exploitation and violation of the complainant’s reproductive rights.

“It would indeed be a decision of immense difficulty for a young woman to go ahead with pregnancy as a single mother, especially when the child has been fathered by a person she has accused of rape,” it noted.

The court also observed that the reproductive rights of a woman had been recognised as being part of the right to life and personal liberty in multiple judgments.

It held that the 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.”

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