A ruling in a court in India has outraged many who feel the country is too forgiving of sexual assault. According to CBS News, Bombay High Court Justice Pushpa V. Ganediwala sided with a 39-year-old defendant who was accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. The judge ruled the defendant didn’t sexually assault the girl because there was no “skin-to-skin contact” or “sexual intent” when the defendant groped the victim.
“The act of pressing of breast of the child aged 12 years, in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside the top and pressed her breast, would not fall in the definition of sexual assault,” the court said.
He defended his ruling by citing the national Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act which states that “sexual intent” is a key factor when factoring in sexual assault.
This ruling overturned a lower court’s verdict that found the defendant guilty. The defendant was, however, convicted of a lesser charge of “outraging a woman’s modesty” and sentenced to a year in prison and a $7 fine. This is far less than the minimum of three years imprisonment the defendant received when he was found guilty in the lower court.
Back in 2016, the defendant named Satish invited the 12-year-old to his house under the guise of giving her food. But when they were in his house he groped her and tried to unclothe her.
The latest verdict outraged many who felt that India has a problem with sexual violence against women. The Executive Director of childs rights group, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Dhananjay Tingal told CBS that the group would be appealing the ruling in India’s Supreme court.