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Monday, December 4, 2023

Kerala High Court: Woman’s Naked Upper Body Not Automatically Sexual


The Kerala High Court recently issued a significant ruling, stating that society should not always view the portrayal of a woman’s naked body as sexual or obscene. In a case where a woman made a video of her children painting on her semi-nude body, the court discharged her from the criminal charges. The mother’s explanation was that she wanted to challenge patriarchal notions about female bodies and provide sex education to her children. The court declared that it could not deem the video as obscene.

The court highlighted that society should not automatically perceive a woman’s naked upper body as sexual and should not consider the depiction of a woman’s naked body as obscene or indecent by default; instead, it should depend on the context. Justice Kausar Edappagath invoked the principles of body autonomy and highlighted the constant threat to women’s agency and autonomy in a patriarchal structure. The judgement questioned the double standards in society regarding male and female bodies.

The court opined that there is nothing wrong if a mother allows her children to paint on her body as an art project to normalize the view of nude bodies. The court noted that the video did not involve a real or simulated sexual act, nor was it intended for sexual gratification. The purpose behind the video, as declared by the petitioner, was to make a political point against the sexualization of a woman’s body.

Furthermore, the court stated that classifying nudity as inherently obscene or immoral is incorrect. It mentioned the historical significance of lower-caste women fighting for the right to cover their breasts and the presence of semi-nude sculptures and paintings of deities in ancient temples throughout the country. The court condemned society’s double standards in perceiving nudity, specifically pointing out how it sexualizes or taboos female bodies while accepting male bodies.

The woman in this case faced charges under various acts related to child protection and information technology. However, the court dismissed the charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, stating that there was no evidence of the children being involved in real or simulated sexual acts. The court also recognized the woman’s right to make autonomous decisions about her body, which falls within the fundamental rights of equality, privacy, and personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.

Regarding the charges under the Information Technology Act, the court noted that the video was not sexually explicit, obscene, or indecent. The court dismissed the argument that the video involved a sexually explicit act because the child touched the mother’s breast and other parts.

Overall, the Kerala High Court’s ruling upholds a woman’s right to body autonomy and challenges societal double standards. The case reminds us that we should not always perceive a woman’s naked body as sexual, but rather as a matter of personal choice and expression.


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