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“Love doesn’t mean consent,” says Kerala High Court!

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In a stir of events presented before the Kerala High Court, the court expressed how there’s a gulf of difference between consent and submission and that love for a person doesn’t equate to consent to have intercourse. Justice R Narayana Pisharadi emphasized this point and drew light on how every consent involves a submission but the converse does not follow.

This decision came in the wake of the hearing of an appeal by 26-year-old Syam Sivan. The accused had in 2013 taken a girl, with whom he had a relationship, to Mysore and had sexual intercourse with her without her consent. The accused sold all her gold ornaments and then took her to Goa where he raped her again.

Subsequently, he has been sentenced to various sections of the Indian Penal Code including section 376, which deals with rape.

“Helplessness in the face of inevitable compulsion cannot be considered to be consent as understood in law. Exercise of intelligence based on the knowledge of the significance and the moral effect of the act is required for consent. Merely for the reason that the victim was in love with the accused, it cannot be presumed that she had given consent for sexual intercourse,” the court said in its order dated October 31.

The court noted that all evidence shows that his threat to commit suicide in their house had led to her agreeing to come and thereby led to a consent-less act of intercourse. Even if the court worked on the assumption that she did not resist the act, it did not equate to her voluntary consent. “It can only be found that it was a passive submission made by the victim girl under unavoidable circumstances as she had no other option,” the court said in the judgment.

The court declared the act of the accused constitutes the offenses punishable under Section 366 and 376 of the IPC (Abduction and rape).

In a society where consent is misunderstood and mistreated, this clarity is a peephole to assuring better understanding in the future. The consent of women especially is often taken for granted with very little being done to acknowledge its existence. Be it the judgmental slurs from the people over a dress or the time of curfew, unsaid laws are made only for women while very little is done to correct the male sect of the society.

Such clear boundaries between consent and submission are only more reasons to educate children about such events and inculcate in them, the quality to use both wisely. The clear demarcation made in the court of law shows the development in the sphere of consent issues and this, if coupled with increased sex education, would make India safer.

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