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Should a man acquitted of rape be addressed as a ‘rape case survivor’?

By NewsGram staff writer

A trial court in Delhi recently expressed concern over society’s behavior towards the men who are accused of rape but are later found to be innocent. Additional Sessions Judge, Nivedita Anil Sharma, made this observation while acquitting a Haryana resident who was framed for raping a divorcee. She later withdrew her statement. The court further questioned whether the acquitted can be called a ‘rape case survivor.’

“In the circumstances, should an acquitted accused, who has remained in custody for a considerable period during trial and who has been acquitted honorably after prosecutrix deposed that he has not raped her and she had physical relations with him with her free consent, be now addressed as a rape case survivor? This leaves us with much to ponder about present day situation of veracity of rape cases,” the court asked.

The court further added, “Today there is public outrage and a hue and cry is being raised everywhere that courts are not convicting rape accused. However, no man, accused of rape, can be convicted if the witnesses do not support the prosecution case or give quality evidence, as in the present case where the prosecutrix is hostile.”

Despite being acquitted by the court, the ‘accused’ is treated differently by the society.  With the media continuously reporting on the case, resuming life can be a mammoth task for the ‘accused.’

NewsGram spoke with people to ascertain their views on the observation of the trial court. However, most of them were of the opinion that the word ‘survivor’ should be restricted to the person who has suffered sexual abuse.

“I don’t think that there should be a word like ‘rape case survivor’ for the people who are acquitted from the crime. The correct word to use would be ‘innocent’. The word ‘survivor’ should be restricted only to victims,” said Aapurv Jain, a final year student from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University (DU) who is also a part a Gender Studies Group at DU.

“We need to understand that to be accused for something, dragged through months or years of psychological and social turmoil and by the time one is proven innocent, his image is tarnished beyond repair. This is a sensitive issue. Such misery for an innocent person can be avoided if the court can pronounce speedy judgment,” said Upasana Iyer, a student from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

“From all the terms you could think of, survivor does not fit in. In such a case, rape survivor simply sounds wrong.  It can be someone who has been a victim and has fought back. Rape survivor as a term is very sympathetic and is driven towards the victim more than the acquitted. I agree that the man will be treated differently. It is even possible that if any such incident occurs in his neighborhood, he will be questioned,” said Janhavi Karkera, an advertising professional.

“Off late, we have been hearing about false rape cases and I sympathize with these innocent men. But their ordeal is nothing compared to the victim. The survivor word should solely be reserved for the victims,” said Meena Yadav, an artist.

“Even if a man is falsely accused of rape, it takes a certain frame of time before he is proven not guilty. Until then, the man is ‘demonized’ by the media. With the reach of social media, his entire reputation goes for a toss. His dignity needs to be restored. Although, I don’t think that survivor would be a correct word to use,” said Cyrus Dastur, founder, SHAMIANA short film club.

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