New Delhi: Days after the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality in a landmark verdict, a 25-year-old woman has failed in her attempt to lodge a police complaint against another woman who allegedly sodomised her “using a sex toy” and subjected her to "continuous cruelty”.
The victim, who had come to Delhi from a state in eastern India for work, has alleged that the 19-year-old accused woman raped her and subjected her to repeated sexual and physical assaults. Her ordeal continued when the policemen at the Seemapuri Police Station in Delhi refused to book the accused though the latter was found in the “exact spot” where the woman was allegedly held hostage for over 2 months.
"I had requested the police at the Seemapuri Police Station to charge her. But they refused to lodge a complaint. They even asked me to not mention it to the magistrate, but I did," the complainant told News18.
The statement of the accused has now been recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code on September 26 by a magistrate at the Karkardooma district court.
The victim’s ordeal began in March this year when she quit her job in Gurgaon to invest in her own business. She got into an agreement wherein she was required to get other partners to invest in an online clothing merchandise. After her stipulated training session in Punjab’s Rajpura, the woman was asked to cough up Rs 1.5 lakh as investment money, which was arranged by her father through a loan shark.
To search for partners, the victim was advised to approach people in railway stations, airports or bus stops and brief them about her business proposal. It was during this process that she met Rohit, another accused, who told her that he worked for HCL and was ready to invest in her business.
The victim was allegedly taken to an apartment in Dilshad Colony, where Rohit, and another accused named Rahul, raped her and shot obscene videos to blackmail the woman.
"First, they forced me to have sex with them. Then it became a gang affair. Soon, I was sent to serve clients and the accused woman was always there in the apartment. She often tried to get close to me, and when I refused, she used to beat me," said the victim.
Throughout her ordeal, the victim was allowed contact with her family back home only on few occasions. "Rahul made me talk to my parents at times and I was threatened against revealing anything. They received Rs 20,000 in their account directly from Rahul as my ‘fees’. They were under the assumption that I was still working for the business venture," the woman said.
However, she now fears that her family may never know peace. "They will commit suicide if they come to know what has befallen me."
Rahul has been arrested and sent to judicial custody in Tihar Jail, while Rohit is absconding.
After the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, carnal same-sex intercourse is no longer an offence. However, the aspect of consent remains a debatable topic.
Soon after the verdict, a senior government official had told News18 that Section 377 of the IPC will now be applicable only in cases of “no consent penile unnatural sex which also involves minors”.
The official had also said that post the verdict, police have to tread in the uncharted territory of establishing a principle of consent among consenting adults.
"There was a case recently that where a student was forced into unnatural sex with his seniors which led him to contract HIV. Now after the verdict, it will be very difficult to prove consent in such cases," said the official.
Recounting the ordeal, the victim said Rohit and Rahul pinned her down on all fours on the bed while the accused woman “raped” her using a sex toy to “make her ready for anal sex for her customers".
"The woman was not forced to do it. She was deriving pleasure out of it. I want to see her punished along with the other two," the victim said.
Hemant Sharma, a social activist and member of Paramjyoti Sewa foundation, who helped rescue the woman, told News18 that punishing the accused woman under Section 376 of the IPC was “impossible”.
"Section 376 lists down punishment for rape but confines it to only a man-woman affair and where same sex assault goes unnoticed," said Sharma.
At present, cases have been registered against Rahul, Rohit and Sagar, who allegedly aided the victim’s confinement. Though Rahul and Rohit have been booked under sections of rape, illegal confinement and sections of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, Sagar has not been charged with rape or attempt to rape.
The victim has also informed the court that she is six weeks pregnant and wishes to abort the foetus. She has sought that the DNA of the foetus after abortion should be matched with that of the accused men to prove the viability of the offence and highlight her ordeal of being forced into sex with multiple partners.
Speaking to News18, Seemapuri SHO said, “The victim had given us a written statement and on the basis of that we lodged an FIR. For us, arresting someone is the easiest thing to do, but we need evidence for that. We are still in the examination process and are at an initial stage of investigation."
He also stated that since Section 377 has been read down by the Supreme Court, there is no legal provision under which a woman can be charged if she is accused of raping another woman.
However, the victim’s advocate, Priyanka Dagar, told News18 that Section 377 applies in the case due to “the absence of consent”.
"The Supreme Court did read down Section 377 but that applies to cases where carnal intercourse is through mutual consent. In my client's case, she was undoubtedly forced. Hence, only Section 377 will apply," Dagar said.
She also stated that the FIR did not mean much as the statement made before the police is inadmissible as evidence and that they were relying solely on her statement recorded under Section 164 of CrPC.