Pinki Pramanik was a national-level female athlete who had been cohabiting with a friend of hers whose husband had abandoned her. After 3 years of living together, the woman brought a complaint of sexual assault and rape against Pinki for inducing her into sexual activity on the pretext of marriage and exploiting her vulnerable situation.Upon her arrest, Pinki was forced to undergo multiple medical examinations to ‘determine’ her gender. The tests declared her to be a “male pseudo-hermaphrodite” (sic.) suffered a “disorder of sexual development”. According to the results, Pinki was ‘deemed’ to be an intersex person.
The Court had to decide whether Pinki had and could be considered capable of committing the offence of rape.
Given that under the IPC, the sexual offences against an adult are gender-specific i.e. complaints of sexual offences can only be made against men by women, the Court thought it necessary to determine whether Pinki was a “man” for the purposes of this offence.
After invasive and extensive analysis of the medical reports attained to through the medical examinations of Pinki, the court concluded that since she is not capable of “penetrative intercourse” she cannot be accused of rape. The Court also held that the allegation of inducement on the pretext of marriage did not stand since the complainant was already married. Pinki was acquitted.
Since Pinki Pramanik was a national level athlete, this case received national attention and extensive media coverage that was largely sensationalized and voyeuristic. This case highlights the indignity and humiliation that gender non-conforming persons and intersex persons are subjected to at the hands of authorities including Courts and Police. She forced to undergo innumerable medical tests, held in a men’s prison cell during the trial and subjected to harassment. Her medical examinations were also leaked to public and press making her sexuality and gender a subject of public scrutiny. Pinki was also denied her right to dignity and life in the determination of her gender – being declared as ‘male’ by the Courts and the media