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India’s High Court Says Molesting Without Skin-On-Skin Contact Is Not Sexual Assault

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Sexual Assault
Source: Bombay Bar & Pintas

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The High Court in India has ruled that groping a child through their clothes does not equate to sexual assault. This decision sparked outrage in the country among campaigners who have been fighting to address sexual abuse against women and children.

According to CNN, this happened during a judgement last week, where Bombay High Court judge Pushpa Ganediwala ruled that a 39-year-old man was not guilty for sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl. She said it was because he had not removed her clothes and therefore, had no skin-on-skin contact.

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For illustration purpose only

The alleged assault took place in December 2016 when the man brought the girl to his house to give her guava. While they were there, the man allegedly touched the girl’s chest and tried to remove her underwear. He was then found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to three years in prison by a lower court.

However, the man later appealed to the High Court.

On 19 January 2021, High Court Judge Ganediwala said that the incident couldn’t be defined as sexual assault under the national Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as “per the definition of ‘sexual assault’, a ‘physical contact with sexual intent without penetration’ is an essential ingredient of the offence,” according to CBS News.

“Considering the stringent nature of punishment provided for the offence, in the opinion of this court, stricter proof and serious allegations are required,” she wrote.

“The act of pressing of breast of the child aged 12 years, in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside the top and pressed her breast, would not fall in the definition of sexual assault,” said the court.

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Judge pushpa ganesdiwala

Judge Ganediwala then acquitted the man of sexual assault but gave him a lesser charge of molestation and sentenced him to one year in prison.

“It is the basic principle of criminal jurisprudence that the punishment for an offence shall be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime,” she said.

India’s Protection of Children From Sexual Offenses Act 2012 does not explicitly state that skin-on-skin contact is needed to constitute the crime of sexual assault.

 

Also read: “It doesn’t have recording function” Miri Police Claim CCTV Footage Unavailable For Lockup Rape Case

Jail

Source: E&T
Source: Bombay Bar

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