False Rape Allegations: Are Women Being Abused Or Are They Abusing Laws?

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Imagine being framed for something you've not done and running the rat-wheel to prove yourself innocent. How does it feel like?

To spend years of your life in a dark, cold prison cell for a crime you did not commit is firmly the most painful experience a person can undergo.

A man from the Indian city of Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh, named Vishnu Tiwari, was imprisoned for 20 years under false rape allegations. He was finally released from Agra Central Prison in January 2021, and the court declared that he was “Wrongfully Convicted“.

Another man named Santosh from Tamil Nadu faced trial for seven years, once again for false rape charges. Rajit from Uttar Pradesh was booked under various sections of POCSO and IPC and was imprisoned for an approximate period of 3 months because a woman claimed that he raped his minor daughter, which once again turned out to be fake rape allegations.

Such allegations destroyed these men for a lifetime. The tag of a “Rapist” ruins their reputation and bars them from living a decent life ever again.

Women are misusing their legal rights to falsely victimise themselves, mainly to take revenge, get financial compensation or harass others. There are many scenarios where a couple were engaged in sexual relations, and after their break up, the women claim that she slept with him on the pretext that he will marry her, and now that they are broken up, their intercourse can be labelled as “Rape”.

As pre-marital sex is becoming more and more common, consensual inter-courses are being labelled as ‘Rape’ and men are falling prey to this grave misuse of laws simply because of presence of their semen samples.  They are left with nothing to prove that the intercourse was consensual.

Illustration by Leigh Wells

The main reason for the rise in such cases is the lack of proper legislation. We have several laws to protect women from patriarchal crimes but barely anything to protect men equally. Even though rape allegations are particularly difficult to verify, there have to be some basic rules other than semen samples, such as a sign of force, etc.

Other than women falsely claiming rape, society and media have a major role in the rising of such cases.

The society is so obsessed with protecting a woman’s reputation that when they realize a maiden had engaged in pre-marital sex, they think it’s safer to pass on the blame to a man and label their intercourse as “rape” to protect her reputation and maintain her innocence. Most of the cooked-up stories involve sedative-laced drink to clarify that the woman’s consent was missing.

Certain families willingly pass on the blame to man because society often links the virtue of a woman with her virginity, following which parents prefer to tell a tale of sympathy, that their daughter had been raped rather than acknowledge that she was sexually active.

When a man is alleged to have raped a girl, the media, instead of presenting the facts as they are, takes the matter into their hands to declare who the guilty party is. The notion of “innocent until proven guilty” is often ruined by the media. This attitude makes it easier for a woman to claim rape to meet her self-interests, which may include anything from mere harassment to destroying the man for life.

According to National Crime Bureau Records, 38,947 rape cases were filed in 2016, and 10,068 were false charges. Rajasthan Police says 43% of rape cases filed in 2018 were bogus, whereas Andhra Pradesh confirms that 45% of rape cases filed from 2017 -2019 were fabricated rape allegations.

Women today are educated and empowered, but the abuse of laws has to stop. Women must be aware of their rights, but if laws are misused, the woman should receive the punishment that the man would have had the allegation been true, even if the punishment is life imprisonment or death penalty. False allegations interfere with an individual’s ‘Right to Equality’ (Article 14) and ‘Right to Life and Personal Liberty’ (Article 21). A frightful fact to back that up is that Supreme Court had imposed 60 death sentences over a period of 15 years (2000-2015) and themselves admitted that 15 of them were innocent. Here, the fabricated charges are nothing short of tyranny and murder. 

Illustration: Chad Crowe

We lack proper legislation, but since these cases are on the rise, it’s time we demand formal legislation for the same. Women and men must be treated equally. We need to groom a society where the suppression of neither parties will be tolerable. In the wake of empowering women, we forget to protect the men.

We thrive to protect our daughters, and we tear down anyone meddling with her reputation or virtue. Similarly, we need to protect the men from falling prey to false allegations and save them from being deprived of their life for no fault of theirs. Rape legislations are women-centric, and they thrive to protect women and provide justice to victims. This extreme favouritism has led to bias legislation. Rape laws should also be made gender-neutral to ensure legal equality between both genders.

In a country like India, the act of engaging in sexual activity is a sin but society has to adjust with changing times and stop judging people based on their sex lives. India needs to introduce sex education to educate young minds about it in a healthy manner. According to Section 375, rape is forced sexual intercourse which does not include a woman’s will or consent. But at the same time, people have got to acknowledge that sex with consent, or pre-marital sex is not rape and to humiliate others for the same is not the answer to any question.

Lastly, we all need to remember, that laws are made to protect the vulnerable, but misuse can often become a tool for oppression.

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Srinivas Moghekar

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