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Legal Hands On Gender Based Violence

Unraveling Legal Complexity Insights into Gender Based Violence Legislation 1 e1711451045978

Session Report
Christeena Sabu

The Gender Impact Studies Center, which is part of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute in New Delhi, conducted a four-week online immersive certificate training course called ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’ from  5-27 March, 2024.

The training course aimed to equip participants with the knowledge and tools necessary to understand, address, and ultimately eradicate gender-based violence. Led by distinguished experts, it provided a well-rounded understanding of the challenges surrounding gender-based violence.

On the second day of the ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’ course, Dr. Shalu Nigam, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI and a distinguished author and researcher in gender and human rights, delivered a compelling presentation on various aspects of gender-based violence.

Concept of Consent in the Socio-Legal Discourse

Dr. Shalu Nigam, a distinguished author and researcher in gender and human rights, conducted the final session, focusing on various legal cases and legislative amendments related to sexual violence in India.

She began by elucidating the concept of consent in cases of sexual violence. Dr. Nigam emphasized that consent must be given willingly by a person who is capable of doing so. She highlighted instances where consent cannot be obtained, such as when a person is a child, disabled, or intoxicated. Furthermore, she discussed how sexual harassment laws and rape laws are now being defined based on the absence of consent.

Dr. Nigam then referenced the Mohd. Farooqui Case (2017 DHC), where the concept of consent was thoroughly analysed. The survivor, studying abroad, had taken the accused as her guide during research work in India. The court’s interpretation regarding consent varied based on the survivor’s background, emphasizing the importance of clear communication of consent.

She also touched upon the Mathura rape case, a custodial rape incident where the victim’s consent was questioned due to her prior sexual history. Despite the controversy, subsequent amendments in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1983 aimed to address such issues, including the shift of burden of proof from victim to accused and provision for in-camera trials.

Dr. Nigam then discussed the Rupan Deol vs. KPS Gill case, which highlighted the challenges in implementing legal amendments. Although Gill was convicted of outraging the modesty of a woman, the victim had to endure a prolonged legal battle for justice, showcasing the limitations of legal reforms.

The session also touched upon the Bhanwari Devi case, a high-profile instance of sexual assault and murder involving influential figures. Despite widespread attention and legal proceedings, the case faced numerous setbacks, reflecting systemic challenges in addressing sexual violence and corruption.

Furthermore, Dr. Nigam discussed landmark legal developments such as the Vishaka guidelines, introduced in response to the Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan case, and recommendations by the Justice Verma Committee following the Nirbhaya case. These initiatives aimed to enhance legal provisions and support mechanisms for survivors of sexual violence.

Legislative amendments in 2013 expanded the definition of rape to include non-penetrative acts and increased penalties for offenders. Stricter penalties were introduced post-2018, particularly for offenses against minors, and measures were implemented to ensure proper medical treatment and recording of statements for survivors.

Dr. Nigam concluded by discussing the Nishta scheme, which provides self-defence training to girls but has faced criticism for placing the burden of crime prevention on them. She emphasized the need for comprehensive interventions engaging all stakeholders to combat sexual violence effectively.

In summary, Dr. Nigam’s session highlighted the complexities of addressing sexual violence in India, including legal challenges, legislative reforms, and the importance of societal interventions for prevention and support.

Acknowledgment: This article was posted by Christeena Sabu, a research intern at IMPRI.

Read more at IMPRI:

Locating Policy Approaches to Addressing Gender Based Violence

Gender Based Violence and Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women

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