19 July 2019
Since we started one of the major issue we have faced is to convince people to tell their story. Rape is a heinous offence. Being called a “Rapist” when you’re innocent probably the biggest crime that can be committed upon a man.
There are endless tales of false accusations of rape against men in India. Various courts have commented upon this issue, expressed concern and passed strong judgments. Justice Nivedita Anil Sharma in fact stated in one of her judgment that it’s time to “protect men” from such accusations and call men who are honorably acquitted from false rape cases as “rape case survivors”
The kind of shame and stigma this tag carries even though you have all the proof of your innocence is evident from the fact that while we reached out to several false rape accused, most hesitated to come and talk about it. It isn’t that they don’t have confidence to talk about their innocence and suffering, but they fear the unknown after facing trauma of long incarceration and then a humiliating trial. They don’t want to take any chance to go through the ordeal again as they fear what if the state appeals against them.
One of such stories is of Bijender from Haryana. He was falsely accused of rape by a woman who actually did this in a gang to extort money. She and her sister had accused men of rape earlier and extorted money from them and they did the same with Bijender as well. He was honorably acquitted and even granted compensation of 5Lacs by the court. But when he pressed for execution of the said amount, state appealed against his acquittal and High Court stayed his compensation. The case continues.
We wanted to document his story in our documentary. But one of the reasons he expressed his inability to do the same is “fear of unknown” with all the cards stacked against him. We briefly interviewed Bijender, visited his village and met his family but eventually he didn’t say yes for being part of the film. His final words were… What if something goes wrong. I have already suffered so much, I don’t want to suffer anymore. We had to eventually drop the case from the film because we didn’t want to cause any troubles to him if he wasn’t comfortable. But his was a tale worth telling. On the day his accuser said he raped her, Bijender was actually lying on a hospital bed. Not just this, while the woman claimed Bijender kidnapped her from a busy roundabout in Rohtak, brought her to Delhi, raped her in a hotel and dumped her back in Rohtak, in reality, it was her in a hotel in Delhi with her own husband on that day. The case had strong background of collusion between the complainant and the police as this woman was a habitual false rape accuser, used to get indirect benefits to police as well.
Another rejection we faced was from a high profile bureaucrat who was accused of rape by lady he was in a live-in relationship for two years. The reason for this case is that the man stopped fulfilling her increasing monetary demands and lavish lifestyle and objected to her taking advantage of his position to get her unethical works done. Despite himself being a very powerful bureaucrat and close aid of a minister, he spent months behind bars. He was eventually acquitted and set free but in his own words he said “My life has been ruined. There’s nothing left in it to discuss. The case took away everything I had. I don’t wish to relive the nightmare” This elderly man also refused to speak about his case and his honorable acquittal.
There’s another case of a young man accused of rape on promise of marriage by his girlfriend who he met on a dating app. I have read and gone through extensive evidence he has to prove his innocence. This boy didn’t even have a sexual intercourse with this girl but just because she says he promised her marriage, had sex and then backed off, she’s being believed more than him. This poor boy spent two months behind bars before the judge granted him bail seeing strong evidence with him of the kind of relationship which existed between them. This boy regularly sends me whatsapp status of his rape accuser. She openly posts things like “There is something called divorce. You should have married me once rather than suffering for the rest of your life” Or “I won’t let any bitch to take you away from me” and much more outrageous status messages. I wanted to interview this boy. I have counselled him for days and months to be positive and not think about suicide or any wrong step. I keenly wanted to show his case in the film but can’t do it because 1) the case is subjudice and 2) this boy feels this girl will then harass him for his entire life for telling her truth to the world. His parents are also extremely scared about consequences 3) His family has somehow started to live again after all the humiliation and loss of reputation in the society and they wish to do nothing that can remotely disturb that.