India judge says 'no' might not always mean 'no' in rape cases

A judge in India essentially ruled that a woman’s denial of consent during sex might not always mean “no” when he acquitted a film director in a 2015 rape case on Monday.

In his 82-page ruling, Justice Ashutosh Kumar of the Delhi High Court said he disbelieved the victim – an American 35-year-old Columbia University researcher – who accused director Mahmood Farooqui of rape.

Kumar explained that the woman failed to communicate her denial of consent, adding that it doesn’t matter if one of the partners may be less willing or hesitant, the Times of India reported.

He said a “clear no” is required to convey a lack of consent in cases where “parties are known to each other, are persons of letters and are intellectually proficient, and if, in the past, there have been physical contacts.

The woman, who was in India as a Fulbright Scholar, accused Faooqui of raping her at his Delhi home on March 28, 2015. Last year, he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison before he appealed the decision.


Kumar said the relationship between Farooqui and the victim “extended beyond a normal friendship or relationship between a guide and a researcher.”

“Such feeble hesitation can never be understood as a positive negation of any advances by the other partner,” Kumar said in his ruling, putting the onus on the victim.

Noting that the woman allegedly faked an orgasm in fear of further violence, the judge said: “In an act of passion, actuated by libido, there could be myriad circumstances which can surround a consent and it may not necessarily always mean yes in case of yes or no in case of no.”

Kumar ultimately decided that Farooqui may not have understood the woman’s lack of consent because he suffers from bipolar disorder.