A Kerala-based women’s rights activist, Rehana Fathima, was discharged by the Kerala High Court in a POCSO case. The activist was facing charges for circulating a video where she was seen posing semi-nude for her minor children, allowing them to paint on her.
The court stated that the autonomy over an individual’s body is often denied to the fairer sex and they are discriminated against and even bullied for making choices with their bodies and lives.
Fathima was facing charges under various provisions of the POCSO, Information TechnologyActs, and Juvenile Justice Act for circulating the videos. Defending the activist, the court said that based on the allegations made, there was not enough proof for anyone to infer that her children were used for simulated or any real sexual acts, or even for sexual gratification.
Fathima had challenged the decision of a trial court in the High Court, as the former had dismissed her plea to be discharged from the case. In her appeal, Fathima stated that the video was a political statement as the naked upper body of a woman is usually sexualised regardless of the context, whereas it is not the same for a male upper body.
“The right of a woman to make autonomous decisions about her body is at the very core of her fundamental right to equality and privacy. It also falls within the realm of personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution,” said the court.
Women's rights activist, Rehana Fathima, had been facing an array of charges – under various sections of the POCSO Act, IT Act and Juvenile Justice Act – for a 2020 video she shared on social media, in which her kids, both minors, can be seen painting her semi-nude torso. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/SVNKD7wfws
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“There is nothing to show that the children were used for pornography. There is no hint of sexuality in the video. Painting on the naked upper body of a person, whether a man or a woman, cannot be started to be a sexually explicit act,” continued the court.
Furthermore, The court also rejected the contention made by the prosecution, who had said that Fathima had exposed the upper body, and hence it was obscene and indecent. In countering the point, the court added that nudity and obscenity do not always go together.