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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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On Interpreting Rape as/and Atrocity

On Interpreting Rape as/and Atrocity

Chapter:
(p.283) Chapter Six On Interpreting Rape as/and Atrocity
Source:
Public Secrets of Law
Author(s):

Pratiksha Baxi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198089568.003.0006

I begin with an analysis of appellate judgments to map the juridical discourse on rape as atrocity, as a widespread toleration of intolerable harm. I argue that in making a classification between lust and atrocity, judicial interpretation does not think of rape as atrocity since such forms of sexual violence are seen as isolated crimes against individual women, irrespective of their caste or class. I contend that the judicial understanding of rape as atrocity is thin, and convictions of rape as atrocity are rare. However, we find some convictions in those cases of rape, which accompany other forms of atrocities. These sexual atrocities do not always communicate the gravitas of the experience of rape as a form of tolerated ‘intolerable harm’ (Card 2004). This is an additive approach—it adds specific forms of atrocity to the crime of rape. In doing so, it does not alter necessarily the meaning of rape. For women, the hollowing out of the Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA Act) happens both at the level of naming and the doing of the law.

Keywords:   atrocity, caste, tribe, stripping and parading, divine displeasure, weak evidence, children, big men, compromise, mere lust, on the grounds of, caste certificate, Khairlanji, acquittal, suicide

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