MUMBAI: It is an unfortunate aspect of the Indian society that girls still fear that unless they get married, they will not be respected in the society, a court here has observed.
Additional Sessions Judge H C Shende made these observations recently, while sentencing a 51-year-old man to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for raping a woman in 2007.
According to the prosecution, the convict had raped the woman on the pretext of performing certain rituals to drive away evil spirits from her, which he said were posing hurdles in the way of her getting married.
"It is an unfortunate aspect of our Indian society...girls are still under fear that unless they get married, they will not get respect in the society.
Unless they have a son, they will not get respect after marriage.
That they will get respect in the society only when their marriage remains intact, they will get respect if they die before the husband," the judge observed.
"Out of the fear, they are coming under false promises, dreams showed to them by the person like the accused," she said.
According to the prosecution, the convict, Manoj Jani, used to run a marriage bureau in suburban Kandivali, where the 31-year-old victim was employed as a telephone operator in 2007.
Jani also worked as an astrologer and suggested solutions to various problems of people.
A few weeks after joining his office, the woman told him about the problems she was facing in getting married.
Jani prepared her horoscope and told her that it was happening as she was possessed by evil spirits.
He also told her that she would have to perform certain rituals and a "puja" in order to drive away the spirits.
As part of the rituals, the convict made her consume "vibhuti" (sacred ash), following which she fell unconscious in his office.
After that he raped her.
"The victim, who hailed from a poor family, was sexually assaulted on a false promise," the prosecution said.
"She was harassed by the accused even after she got married in 2013. When the situation worsened, her husband asked her to return to her parents' place.
Thereafter, the victim approached the police and lodged an FIR in 2015," it added.
The defence argued that the FIR was filed after a gap of seven years and the reason for the delay was not explained properly.
The judge, however, said, "We cannot apply a straightjacket formula that if there is a delay in (filing) FIR, then all the criminals would be acquitted."
"We know that many a time, such offences even remain unreported and buried in the four walls due to the fear of defamation and humiliation in the society and at workplace.
The legislatures are taking cognisance of such offences and hence, making laws to give protection to women," she added.