The Madhya Pradesh High Court has laid down a bizarre condition for granting bail to a 26-year old man accused of molesting a woman. He must get a rakhi tied by the woman on the day of Raksha Bandhan.
The accused, Vikram Bagri, is accused of having entered the 30-year-old woman’s house in Ujjain on the 20th of April. He was charged under section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC.
The Court Has Granted Conditional Bail To The Accused
Bagri has been directed by the court to also give Rs 11,000 to the woman. This will be made as a part of the customary gift offering usually made by brothers to sisters on the occasion.
A single-judge bench of Justice Rohit Arya passed the court order.
The bench said in the court order, “The applicant, along with his wife shall visit the house of the complainant with rakhi thread on August 3, 2020, at 11 AM with a box of sweets and request the complainant to tie the rakhi band to him with the promise to protect her to the best of his ability for all times to come.”
The court also directed the accused to give Rs 5,000 to the woman’s son to buy clothes and sweets.
Enforced “Rakhi” Siblinghood Is Not The Answer To Sexual Violence
The traditional protection that the rakhi represents cannot substitute the proper judicial protection and justice victims need.
The idea of asking a victim to tie a rakhi to his/her molester is preposterous and absurd. The rakhi is a traditional symbol of familial love, trust, and support, but at the end of the day, it is just that – a symbol. It is not a guarantee or a solution to the situation.
Moreover, the chances of a victim wanting to engage in a celebratory ritual that symbolises these things, with their attacker (or engage with them at all) are… we’d say somewhere in the range of unbelievably low to non-existent.
The logic behind the ruling is rooted in socially appropriate norms and traditions of how a brother should ideally perceive his sister, i.e. without any sexual or violent intent, and with a desire to protect her.
Socially appropriate norms and traditions, however, probably hold very little value for somebody engaging in a non-consensual sexual act in the first place. If the ethics of marriage or consent didn’t stop the molester, it’s doubtful that a piece of ritualistic thread will in the future.
Making people “muh bole” bhai and behen is a warped attempt to get rid of sexual desire altogether. The damages of sexual violence do not lie in the desire itself, but in expressions of that desire through violence, lack of consent, and gendered entitlements and ideas of power.
The judiciary decision to grant bail to the accused on the condition that he make that one woman his “rakhi” sister, is not only an unsatisfactory solution to a pervasively damaging problem, but also sets a bad precedent.
This Raksha Bandhan, let us celebrate the mutual support and protection the rakhi represents between brothers and sisters, and speak up against a lack of institutional support and protection for all those who need it.
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