Three convicted rapists have been released from prison on bail after an Indian court determined that the victim was "promiscuous," BBC reports.
The unidentified young woman, a student at the Jindal Global Law School, was in a brief consensual relationship with Hardik Sikri for a month in 2013. After she broke up with him, Sikri reportedly used her nude photos as blackmail and repeatedly raped her for 18 months.
According to court documents, Sikri also forced the victim to have sex with his friends Karan Chhabra and Vikas Garg. At one point they reportedly gang-raped her. Additionally, Sikri forced the young woman to buy a sex toy and use it over Skype while he watched.
Sikri and Chhabra were each sentenced to 20 years in prison and Garg received a seven-year sentence. The court granted their request to be freed on bail while the case was being heard.
In light of information about the victim, the men's jail terms have been suspended altogether. BBC reports that a 12-page court order criticizes the victim for drinking beer, smoking, and keeping condoms.
"[Her testimony] offers an alternate story of casual relationship with her friends, acquaintances, adventurism and experimentation in sexual encounters," the judgement reads. "[A] careful examination of her statement again offers an alternate conclusion of misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind."
Although the victim was blackmailed by Sikri, the court also criticized her for not telling her parents about the abuse.
"In a country where thousands of people under trial languish in prison for decades, often for minor crimes, it is shocking that men convicted of crimes as serious as gang-rape and blackmail were freed on bail," BBC points out, adding that the court order is filled with statements that the Indian media has described as some of the "worst examples of victim shaming."
Justices Mahesh Grover and Raj Shekhar Attri also noted that it would be "a travesty if these young minds are confined to jail for an inordinate long period which would deprive them of their education, opportunity to redeem themselves and be a part of the society as normal beings." The judge in the Brock Turner case made very similar statements, sending the clear message that a perpetrator's future is more important than a victim's.
"This order seems to be innocent of the legal definition of consent and of the judgements of the Supreme Court that are quite clear that even a woman of 'easy virtue' may well withhold consent," Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy told BBC. "Any sex after that is rape."
A petition has been launched on Change.org to protest the court's order.