'Provocative dress': Women's Commission calls Court's observation 'unfortunate'

Representative image: Manorama

Kozhikode: The Kerala Women's Commission on Wednesday deplored an observation made by the District Sessions Court here that an offence under sexual harassment is not prima facie attracted when the woman is wearing a "sexually provocative dress".

The court had made the observation while granting bail to 74-year-old social activist and writer Civic Chandran in a sexual abuse case.

In its August 12 order, the Kozhikode Sessions Court observed that the photograph of the complainant, produced by the accused along with the bail application, would explain that she "herself is exposing" and that it is impossible to believe that a man aged 74 and physically disabled can forcefully put the complainant on his lap and grope her.

Expressing concern over the observations made by the court, Kerala Women's Commission Chairperson P Satheedevi termed it "unfortunate" and said by making such references even before the evidence is presented and the trial is held, the court is effectively dismissing the allegations levelled by the complainant.

"This sends a very wrong message in serious cases like rape", she said.

The court had made the observations while granting bail in the second sexual harassment case registered against him.

Chandran has been accused in two sexual harassment cases, one by a writer belonging to a Scheduled Tribe community, alleging sexual harassment by him during a book exhibition here in April.

The other was by a young writer, who accused him of sexual harassment during a book exhibition in town in February 2020.

The Koyilandy police had registered cases against Chandran but had not been able to arrest him as he has been at large since the first case was registered.

Chandran was granted anticipatory bail in the first case on August 2.

(With inputs from PTI)

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