Indian judge acquits actor of rape, saying a ‘feeble no’ may mean ‘yes’ to sex

A high court judge has acquitted an Indian man of rape ruling a “feeble no” may mean “yes” to sex.

Delhi High Court Justice Ashutosh Kumar set aside the rape conviction of Indian actor and director Mahmood Farooqui on Monday, The Washington Post reports.

Mr Farroqui was convicted of raping a Columbia University student in his Delhi home last year.

But Justice Kumar said it was likely that Mr Farooqui had “no idea” the alleged victim was an unwilling participant in an oral sex act because she feigned an orgasm.

Mr Farooqui met the woman through a mutual friend at Delhi University in 2014.

She hoped he would help her with her studies, the judge wrote.

According to testimony, the two became friends and kissed each other on two previous occasions.

In March 2015, she went to Mr Farooqui’s home thinking she was going to accompany him to a wedding with his wife Anusha Rizvi.

But Mr Farooqui was intoxicated. He tried to kiss her, forced himself on her and begged for oral sex, she testified.

Scared, she feigned orgasm to end the encounter.

The student later returned to Columbia and filed a complaint with the school. She returned to India four months later and filed an official rape complaint with police.

In July 2016, Mr Farooqui was sentenced to seven years’ jail.

But Justice Kumar wrote it was doubtful the incident took place as described by the student and without her consent.

“Instances of woman behaviour are not unknown that a feeble ‘no’ may mean a ‘yes’. If the parties are strangers, the same theory may not be applied,” the judge said.

“But same would not be the situation when parties are known to each other, are persons of letters and are intellectually/academically proficient, and if, in the past, there have been physical contacts. In such cases, it would be really difficult to decipher whether little or no resistance and a feeble ‘no,’ was actually a denial of consent.”

Consent is defined in the Indian Penal Code with verbal and nonverbal communication but lawyers and judges have long blurred those lines.

Some argue women who wear provocative clothes, stay out late or do not fight back against their attackers are actually providing consent.

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