ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How to Believe Women

Women are speaking out to reclaim their experiences, so far understood only through the language of patriarchy.

Testing Chastity, Evidencing Rape

Through a detailed analysis of the history of medical jurisprudence textbooks and their use in case law, this paper argues that these textbooks undermine legal reforms in India. It establishes that medical manuals promote the collection of prejudicial and legally irrelevant evidence and reinforce the notion that Indian women frequently bring false charges of rape. Courts regularly cite these textbooks as authority in rape cases, based on the perceived objectivity of medical science as a form of evidence. For legal reforms to be effective, this article argues that changes must be made to textbooks of medical jurisprudence, medical syllabi, and to protocols of medical examination and assessment of rape victims. Further, courts must be more critical in their use and acceptance of these medical manuals.

Women: Rape and the Law

The incident took plate in a village police station in Nagpur district more than eight years ago. By the time the story begins, Mathura, then aged between 14 and 16, had developed a 'relationship' with Ashok, the cousin of Nushi at whose house she used to work, and had begun to live with him. On March 26, 1978, Gatna, Mathura's brother, lodged a report that Mathura, his sister, had been 'kidnapped' by Nushi, her husband, and Ashok. They were all brought to the police station at about 9 pm when their statements were recorded. When everyone started leaving the police station around 10.30 pm, Tukaram, the head constable and Ganpat a constable directed that Mathura remain at the police station. What happened thereafter is that she was first raped by Ganpat and, after him, by Tukaram, who however only molested her because he was too drunk to forcibly have sexual intercourse with Mathura.
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