India Intelligence Report

   Rape Victim's Testimony Enough for Conviction


In a landmark judgment that could have a large impact on male behavior in India, the Supreme Court said that just the testimony of a rape victim without supporting documents or evidence is enough to gain conviction. It said, "Her (victim) evidence does not require corroboration from any other evidence, including that of a doctor." It added that there is "no ground to disbelieve" the victim's testimony "even if the doctor, who examined the victim, does not find any sign of rape."

Such extreme ruling is necessary in India as the number of targeted, random, and so-called date rape is increasing and perpetrators are taking advantage of the over-burdened judicial and investigative systems to get away. Typically, perpetrators are never caught in random or targeted incidents. Even so, the victim has to get doctor certification to prove that she was raped. Doctors are some times bribed, threatened, or coerced by powerful perpetrators to go against the victim or even retract their own reports and therefore compromising the case.

Random rapes are those when roving bands of hooligans capture an isolated woman and rape her in a moving car and dumping her in an abandoned area. Such predatory practices are very common in New Delhi, which is also being called the rape-capital of India. Apart from such incidents, policemen in inebriated state raping women or girls such as the on in Mumbai have also raised the hackles of nation.

Targeted rapes are those whose motives include political, social, property, or financial vendetta, covetous act perpetrated on women who are perceived beyond the reach of spurned men, or for punishments by spouse, religious body, or local Government. 

Sons of high-ranking officials who take their dates to exotic locations and rape them usually perpetrate date rapes. Recent cases of a German and Japanese tourist brought the reality of such scenarios to India. While these may have been reported, there are numerous other cases where Indian women are drugged by their dates and then raped. The social stigma is so high that most Indian women do not even report it.

The ruling noted, "The Indian woman has a tendency to conceal such offense because it involves her prestige as well as the prestige of her family. Only in a few cases, the victim girl or the family members have courage to go to the police station and lodge a case." The court also barred the disclosure of identity of victims, as it will socially ostracize her. 

Notwithstanding the far-reaching and much needed verdict, the court has not created a process to resolve malicious claims or claims of rape of minors by parents. In one case, some daughters had claimed rape by their father and later retracted the story saying that they were coaxed by their mother to claim rape as punishment to the father. In another case, parents of a child claimed that their girl child was raped by a public figure only to retract their story and causing much damage to that person.