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RSS FeedsShree Paradkar: Culture, tradition under scrutiny in sex assault trial
(The Star Theatre)


17 april 2018 05:51:34

Shree Paradkar: Culture, tradition under scrutiny in sex assault trial
(The Star Theatre)

If you came from a culture where divorce carries a significant stigma, how far would you go to save your reputation, especially if it’s your second divorce?Would you go so far as to lie about being abused? About being raped? About being starved?Lawyer George Tsimiklis seemed to be making the suggestion at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto Monday that a woman who had entered into an arranged marriage had concocted a story of being abused and tortured and starved in order to escape the marriage without stigma of divorce.Tsimiklis was cross-examining the woman we’re calling Sakhi, as her real name is under a publication ban. Sakhi’s husband Rajinder Gupta has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault, assault and uttering threats in the judge-alone trial before Superior Court Justice James Diamond that began last week. Gupta’s mother Sheela Gupta has pleaded not guilty to assault and uttering threats and his father Vinod Gupta pleaded not guilty to a single count of uttering a threat.Sakhi last week testified in Punjabi, through an interpreter, that her husband slapped, bit, choked, sexually assaulted and threatened her during their three-month marriage. Crown attorney Kelly Simpson showed the court 15 photographs taken at Trillium Health Centre of bite marks and bruises over Sakhi’s body.“According to rules of your Hindu traditions,” Tsimiklis said, “there are two honorable ways to leave marriage: One, if your marriage was not consummated. Two, if your whole family subjected you to conditions such that you had no choice (to leave) despite making every effort to make the marriage work.”Here is the thing about Hinduism. There are no hard and fast rules. Traditions constantly evolve based on local cultures. So when Tsimiklis sounded out those rules, I rushed to Google them. No luck. I messaged friends: they hadn’t heard of this get-out-of-marriage-free card. I looked up India’s Hi ...
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