Is it a question of morality?

SOCIAL ISSUE

It won’t be wrong to say that the word ‘sex’ has never been taken with positivity in our country, even though it has given the world ‘Kama Sutra’, a one-of-its-kind text on human sexual behaviour.

 No matter how liberal our society may have been (between 400 to 200 BC) sex as a subject since has been taboo and continues to be so even in the 21st century. 

An example of the same is the recent order passed by Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhatt of the fast track cou­rt in Dwarka, which states that ‘girls are morally and socially bound not to indulge in sexual intercourse before a proper marriage, and if they do so, it would be to their peril and they cannot be heard crying later that it was a rape.’
 The observation was made while acquitting a man char­g­ed with raping the sister-in-law of his brother. The prosecutrix alleged that the man had promised to marry her, had taken her to Jammu for a week where he raped her. According to the order, girls in such cases are mostly in the age group of 19-24 and thus mature enough to understand the consequences of their acts and not so numb as to get carried away. 

The statement is facing flak. Civil Advocate AK Trivedi, Delhi High Court says, “by using words ‘moral’ and ‘social’, the judgement has become an issue of debate. You cannot bind a person by using the word, ‘morally’. Morality comes from the consciousness of a person and you cannot force it on anyone. No one can be a judge of morality,” says Trivedi. 

On the other hand, Kavita Krishnan, president All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) has been constantly criticising the statement on Twitter. “My first reaction was that the statem­e­nt sounds more like a diktat by the Khap Panchayat. Seemingly, it was no different from their orders,” says Kavita. 

“Since it was a rape trial, the Judge could have given acquittals in the case by citing lack of evidence,” she says.

“Women are morally and socially bound for various reasons. But time is changing now, as efforts are being made to break those shackles. Law and order plays an important role in making women free from bondages that have been imposed upon them. By passing such orders, we are trying to bind women morally,” says Kavita.

On a tougher note she adds, “By talking about social mora­l­ity of a woman, the judgeme­nt questions morality of the constitution itself.”

Meanwhile, young boys are asking why is it that girls are being looked down upon, though both of them were involved. “When a girl is mature and aware of safe sex in a healthy relationship there should be no problems even if the couple has sex before marriage,” says Akshay Pandey, a software engineer, working in Gurgaon.

He says, “Girls in our country are taught that sex before marriage is not acceptable as they could become pregnant. I agree that lack of awareness can severely affect a person’s health but if sex between the parties is consensual, practiced with safe measures, then there is no harm. The burden of morality should not be imposed if things don’t work out,” says he. 

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