In New Delhi, Sometimes No Really Does Mean Yes

Here in the United States, society is still struggling to eliminate rape culture, but women in India now have it even worse. A New Delhi judge ruled that “a feeble ‘no'” isn’t necessarily the end of a sexual encounter. In this recent trial, the judge stated that a weak protest doesn’t always mean the victim wants the encounter to stop and that supposition led to an acquittal in a highly publicized trial.
Defense Suggests A Rape Never Took Place
India is facing a new legal quagmire in relation to the issue of sexual consent, following the decision handed down in the case of Bollywood filmmaker Mahmood Farooqui. The director, best known for Peepli Live, had previously been sentenced to seven years in prison for the rape of a female Columbia University student. The verdict came into question recently, as Farooqui’s lawyer pursued an appeal in the case.
The attorney argued there is a lack of evidence to support the conviction in a New Delhi court. Mahmood was alone with the victim in his home on the evening the alleged rape took place, argued the lawyer. He added that, if a sexual encounter did take place, it was only with the victim’s consent.
Mahmood Farooqui Deserves “The Benefit Of The Doubt”
The appeal process went well for the defense, as High Court Judge Ashutosh Kumar overturned the conviction and suggested Mahmood may not have acted inappropriately. The high court justice said the prosecution never truly proved that events happened as the victim stated and added that Farooqui had “no idea at all” that consent wasn’t given.During Kumar’s decision, he explained that, while one party in a sexual encounter may not be entirely willing or may feel hesitant about seeing it through, that’s not the same as withdrawing consent. He said where there is “assumed consent,” feelings of uncertainty cannot be considered a refusal.
“Such feeble hesitation can never be understood as a positive negation of any advances by the other partner.”
Further, Judge Kumar added that, especially in cases where the two parties kniw each other well, “a feeble ‘no’ may mean yes”. He said in his ruling that a more insistent refusal was needed to either refuse or withdraw consent.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for the victim, responding to the ruling, said she verbally protested and continuously pushed away his advances. She previously stated in court that he pulled away her lingerie, even as she struggled to stay dressed. Ultimately, Farooqui overpowered her.
“Under those circumstances, it is therefore startling to hear this series of events recorded as a ‘feeble no,'” commented U.S. Supreme Court lawyer, Karuna Nundy.
Ms. Nundy helped reform India’s rape laws.

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