A woman in India has been told by a judge to consider marriage to the man who raped her around seven years ago.
In 2008, the now 21-year-old woman was raped at the age of 14 and became pregnant. Her baby girl was born nine months after the rape, and is now 6 years old.
Justice D. Devadass of Madras High Court is presiding over convicted rapist V Mohan’s appeal and plea for bail. Mohan was sentenced to seven years and fined. He has not served his entire sentence.
Citing religion and its ability to bring about reconciliation, Judge Devadass has requested the victim and Mohan attend mediation.
Mediation in a rape case is chosen with the intent that the victim and attacker will eventually marry, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Judge Devadass views it as a better situation for the victim because an unwed mother and her child are “lepers” in Indian society and marriage will give her a “respectable” life, even if it is with a rapist.
“Did the judge ever think how I suffered all these years? He knew I had a baby from that rape. And now this single order of his wants me to go through that suffering again,” the victim told The Indian Express during a video interview, embedded below.
"It is unfair of the judge to do this to me. The rapist only wants to get out of jail which is why he agreed to mediation. Can the judge guarantee my safety if he is in this area? Or my daughter's safety? I am being forced to suffer again. Only those who live around me know what I have been through," the victim said.
Judge Devadass views mediation as a chance for the rapist to speak freely and openly.
"The case before us is a fit case for attempting compromise between the parties...he [the rapist] should be enabled to participate in the deliberations as a free man and vent his feelings, open his mind and moorings. Where there is a will, there is a way," Judge Devadass said.
“‘Mediation’ mode is best suited to them,” Judge Devadass added.
When handing down his recommendation, Judge Devadass referred to another similar rape case where he said there was a “happy conclusion”—the victim agreed to marry her attacker.
The victim refuses to agree to mediation, or marriage.
“I will fight it out. My entire life. I will show my daughter the way I struggled and fought to survive,” the victim said. “If I go for a settlement, one day my child will question me for taking up his offer of money. If I agree to his offer, may be we will get something. But what will be her future… being brought up as the daughter of a rapist. Even if her father is a rapist, she will realize one day that her mother struggled for her. She will learn it the hard way. That will make her a good woman.”
According to the victim, Judge Devadass did not consult her before deciding mediation was best suited in the case.
The victim was raped at 14 when a soft drink was given to her laced with drugs by Mohan. When she became unconscious he raped her. A DNA test proved that her daughter was his biological child. The victim’s family was ostracized by their community and own extended family. When the victim’s parents died she was left to care for her daughter by herself with the help of her brother.
A group of senior lawyers in Madras have written to Judge Devadass to protest against the mediation proposal.
Photo Source: The Sydney Morning Herald