Indian Court Rules “Groping Without Skin-to-Skin Contact is not Sexual Assault”

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Gender-Based Violence

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On January 27, 2021, headlines around the world announced India’s Supreme Court ruled that groping without-skin-to-skin contact, such as over clothing, is not considered to be sexual assault – a judgement that also enables pedophilia in the rape capital of the world.

On January 19, 2021, Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala, ruled in the Bombay High Court in India that “grouping without skin-to-skin contact, such as over clothing, is not sexual assault.”

The 39-year-old perpetrator was accused of groping a 12-year-old girl's breast -- he was found not guilty by the judge.

According to court documents, the accused brought the girl to his house in December 2016 under false pretense and assaulted her there by touching her chest and attempting to remove her underwear. He was initially found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to three years in prison in a lower court.

After appealing to the High Court his case was heard by Justice Ganediwala, who found him not guilty.

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"It is not the case of the prosecution that the accused removed her top and pressed her breast. As such, there is no direct physical contact i.e. skin-to-skin with sexual intent without penetration," Justice Ganediwala said.

The Protection of Children From Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO Act) does not explicitly state that skin-on-skin contact is needed to be counted as sexual assault. Attorney General KK Venugopal said the ruling sets a dangerous precedent. The National Commission for Women echoed this concern.

According to the Hindustan Times, they said “the judgment will not only have a cascading effect on various provisions involving the safety and security of women in general but will also subject all women to ridicule.” Justice Ganediwala has made similar dangerous rulings in recent cases. She is complicit in the culture that protects abusers. Justice Ganediwala is setting dangerous precedents -- making it even harder for survivors of sexual abuse to come forward and obtain justice.

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