In a landmark ruling in favor of women’s rights, the Delhi Court ruled that any woman who exercises sexual independence through consent cannot be presumed to have given consent to the violation of her reproductive rights.

The court refused to release a man on bail for rape, holding that entering into a sexual relationship with a man does not strip a woman of her reproductive rights and that a woman’s sexual choices do not confer any reciprocal right for her partner to exploit her.

The accused and the complainant had met on a social networking site, after which the man took her to the house of an acquaintance and raped her several times. He allegedly threatened to reveal their relationship and photos and beat her when confronted with marriage. The New Indian Express reported that the man and the woman were in a direct relationship.

The complainant’s lawyer informed the court that the accused had caused the woman to miscarry three times and she is now pregnant for the fourth time and after more than eight months of pregnancy.

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The judge refused relief to the accused, further noting that the act of violating reproductive autonomy through multiple pregnancies and abortions removes the element of consent that might have been given to the sexual act itself and also stressed that it is a very difficult decision for a woman who has given birth to a child through rape who wants to proceed with the pregnancy.

The defendant emphasized that they had engaged in premeditated sexual intercourse and that the woman could not file allegations under IPC Section 376 (rape) only because the relationship could not materialize into marriage.

However, the court opposed the bail application for the accused, arguing that the complainant’s statements identified a forced sexual assault by the accused, apart from the claim that he also caused her miscarriage on multiple occasions.

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