Outrage as top judge tells rapist to marry victim if he wants to avoid jail

Outrage has broken out after an accused rapist was told to marry his victim if he wants to avoid prison.

India’s top judge Sharad Arvind Bobde is now facing calls to resign after telling him “we can help you”.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition demanding the Chief Justice of India quits his role in the wake of his comments.

The suspect, a government technician, is accused of stalking, tying up, gagging and repeatedly raping a schoolgirl.

He allegedly threatened to douse her in petrol and set her alight, to hurl acid at her and have her brother killed.

The judge told him at a court hearing: “If you want to marry [her] we can help you.

“If not, you lose your job and go to jail.”

According to the Hindu, the crime emerged when the girl attempted suicide.

Women’s rights activists in India have shared an open letter which called for the judge to step down and apologise for his remarks.

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It read: “By suggesting that this rapist marry the victim-survivor, you, the chief justice of India, sought to condemn the victim-survivor to a lifetime of rape at the hands of the tormentor who drove her to attempt suicide.”

The letter added: “From the towering heights of the post of CJI of the Supreme Court, it sends the message to other courts, judges, police and all other law enforcing agencies that justice is not a constitutional right of women in India.

“This will only lead to the further silencing of girls and women.

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“To the rapists, it sends the message that marriage is a licence to rape; and that by obtaining such a licence, the rapist can post facto decriminalise or legalise his act.”

At another hearing on Monday the judge also questioned if sex between a married couple could be considered rape, according to the letter.

Marital rape is not a crime in India.

He said: “The husband may be a brutal man, but can you call the act of sexual intercourse between a lawfully wedded man and wife as rape?”

Campaigners wrote: “This comment not only legitimises any kind of sexual, physical and mental violence by the husband, but it normalises the torture that Indian women have been facing within marriages for years without any legal recourse.”

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