MADURAI: Observing that Indian women with disabilities are often doubly discriminated against - both as women and as people with disability, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court recently refused to reduce punishment imposed on three persons for attempting to rape a woman with speaking and hearing disability.
Justice K Murali Shankar said that despite the imposition of severe punishments, the attitude of society towards women has not changed completely. "Violence is something she is born with, from womb till grave," he remarked.
"Everyone accepts that we are to treat women well. But that is not enough. It's time to work, to make sure that all men treat women well," he further observed. Considering that the victim is a woman with speech and hearing disability and also the seriousness of the offence, the judge held that the punishment imposed cannot be set aside or said to be excessive.
Justice Shankar made the observations while dismissing an appeal filed by three persons challenging the seven years imprisonment awarded to them by a lower court in 2016 for attempting to rape a widow with speaking and hearing disability.
A perusal of the judgment showed that on November 18, 2013, when the woman was grazing goats with her seven-year-old son and niece, the accused persons dragged her into the bushes and attempted to rape her. The children, who were pushed away, ran to the woman's father who was searching for them. He then rushed to the spot and upon seeing him, the accused fled. With the help of an interpreter, the victim's statement, which was made through signs and gestures, was recorded and the accused were later found guilty by Tirunelveli Sessions Court in 2016, it revealed.
If the victim's father had not intervened, the accused would have succeeded in committing the gang rape, the judge noted. Though the counsel appearing for the accused raised several objections regarding the validity of statements given by the witnesses, especially the statement of the victim which was not videographed, Justice Shankar rejected the contentions and confirmed the guilt of the accused.