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Public Secrets of LawRape Trials in India$
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Pratiksha Baxi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780198089568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198089568.001.0001

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Doctrinal Pictures of Rape Trials

Doctrinal Pictures of Rape Trials

How to Do Things with Feminism

(p.1) Chapter One Doctrinal Pictures of Rape Trials
Public Secrets of Law

Pratiksha Baxi

Oxford University Press

Judicial words bear illocutionary force: become acts or mandates for deeds. In a basic sense, ‘a legal world is built only to the extent that there are commitments that place the body in line … the interpretive commitments of officials, are realized, indeed, in the flesh’ (Cover 1995:208). In this chapter, I elaborate such judicial interpretations executed in the flesh of the women testifying to rape. Further, I wish to present a reading of appellate law on rape to trace how judicial precedent represses the violence that underlies its development. By juxtaposing landmark cases from different Indian courts to read the rape law, I hope to describe the written and unwritten precedents of injustice that haunt projects of law reform. In doing so, I focus on the effects of the 1983 amendment in relation to the Indian women’s movement critique of rape law.

Keywords:   Mathura open letter, women’s movement, landmark trials, patriarchy, precedents of injustice, marital rape, age of consent, corroboration, in camera trials, unnatural sex, penetration, custodial rape, gangrape, past sexual history, passive submission, habitué, fast track courts, judicial reform

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