Kerala activist's anticipatory bail plea rejected in semi-nude video case
Asserting that she was spreading obscenity, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an anticipatory bail plea of Kerala-based activist Rehana Fathima, in connection to a video which showed minor children painting on her semi-nude body. The activist, whose attempts to enter the Sabarimala Temple catapulted her into national headlines, approached the top court after Kerala High Court didn't entertain a similar request.
In a problematic video that surfaced on social media in June, Rehana was seen lying down as her two children, 14-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter, painted on her body. Sharing the video, the 33-year-old said women are not safe in a sexually frustrated society. She argued that a woman's body should be "shown," and conversations about sexuality must be initiated at home.
As the clip created a flutter, BJP leader AV Arun Prakash of Pathanamthitta district approached police and a non-bailable case was registered against her. State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Member K Nazir also said that Rehana must be booked under relevant sections of the POCSO Act and that the visuals must be taken down. Facing the legal tune, Rehana approached Kerala HC.
In her bail plea, Rehana said she was imparting sex education to her kids and wanted them to view a body as more than a sexual tool. Disagreeing with her arguments, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan said she is allowed to give sex education but "that should be within the four walls of her house and should not be forbidden by law."
Thereafter, Rehana approached the Supreme Court and today, when the matter was presented by her lawyer senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Justice Arun Mishra commented, "What kind of case have you brought before us?" When Sankaranarayanan detailed the accusations, Justice Mishra said he was not interested. He asked how could Rehana use children. "What kind of a culture will the children perceive," he asked.
Sankaranarayanan said Rehana's stand has always been that when a man poses semi-nude he gets a free pass, but in women's case, it is called obscene. "She says the only way to go about this is to sensitize people about this," the counsel argued. On this, Justice Mishra said the activist was old enough to understand these things.
"Why do you do all this? You might be an activist (but) what kind of nonsense is this? It is obscenity you are spreading. It will leave a very bad taste in society," the bench said while rejecting her anticipatory bail plea.
Evidently, Rehana is not new to controversies. She had unsuccessfully tried to enter Sabarimala Tempe in 2018 after the top court lifted a ban, eventually allowing women between 10 and 50 years to enter the shrine of Lord Ayyappa. As her attempt created an uproar and she was accused of hurting religious sentiments, she was suspended from her BSNL job, She got terminated recently.