Civic Chandran: After 'provocative' dress, Kerala court questions woman's caste
Kerala writer and social activist Civic Chandran has been in the news this week for two sexual harassment cases against him. Reports on Thursday revealed that a Kerala Court, hearing Chandran's bail plea in an earlier case, said that "it is highly unbelievable that [Chandran] will touch the body of the victim knowing fully knowing that she is a member of Scheduled Caste."
Why does this story matter?
On Wednesday, the court granted bail to Chandran in a second sexual harassment case and observed that the charge will not stand 'when a woman was wearing a sexually provocative dress.' The comments triggered furor amongst citizens for 'putting the blame' on the woman for undergoing harassment. The court, in both cases, has questioned how an aged 'physically disabled' man could harass a woman.
Kerala court makes 'casteist' comments
On August 2, Judge K Krishnakumar of the Kozhikode sessions court said that offenses under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (PoA) Act will not stand as Chandran would not touch the body of a woman from an SC background. The observation was made in a case filed by a Dalit woman writer who alleged Chandran had 'kissed the back of her neck forcefully."
What else did the court say?
"In order to attract the offense...it has to be established that the accused was with the knowledge that the victim belonged to a member of SC/ST," the bench said. In the bail order, the court observed that Chandran is fighting against the caste system and is involved in several agitations. "The accused is a reformist...writing for a casteless society," the court said.
What is the first case about?
The writer alleged that Chandran met her on April 17 during a poetry reading and "kissed the back of her neck" without consent. "Civic...grabbed my hand and attempted to keep me close to his body...He came near me and tried to make me lie on his lap...I was in a horrific situation," the woman claimed. She filed a case against him in July.
Judge cites Chandran's age
Additionally, the bench in this case also observed that the woman was taller and younger than Chandran and said, "It cannot be believed that the accused made a kiss on her back without consent." On Wednesday, in the second harassment case, the Court refused to believe how a 74-year-old man could "forcefully put the de-facto complainant on his lap and press her breasts."
What did the court say on Wednesday?
Sexual harassment charge will not stand if the woman is wearing a 'sexually provocative' dress, Justice Krishnakumar said on Wednesday, hearing the second harassment case against Chandran. Granting him bail, the court said that Section 354A (sexual harassment) charge would not be applicable in this scenario. In both cases, the judge questioned why women filed the FIR after a long period of delay.