Rehana Fathima, an Indian women’s rights activist from Kerala, was facing charges under various provisions of the POCSO after a video showing her minor kids painting on her semi-naked body surfaced on the internet. The High Court of Kerala has now dismissed further legal action against her.
Justice Kauser Edappagath, who presided over the hearing and dismissed the complaint, emphasized the value of body autonomy and said that society has many double standards regarding male and female bodies.
The activist received backlash in June 2020 after sharing a video of her two children, an 8-year-old girl, and a 14-year-old boy, painting on her semi-naked body. She claimed that the practice was done to educate her kids about sexuality and to combat the stigma attached to women’s bodies.
One of the first women to attend the Sabarimala shrine, Fathima, was refused anticipatory bail in the case but was later given conditional bail by a special court.
After posting the video of her kids painting her breasts online, Fathima was arrested for violating sections 13, 14, and 15 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012 (POCSO), as well as Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 and section 67B(d) of the Information Technology Act of 2000.
The court condemned society for its prejudice against both men and women who are nude, pointing out that while body painting is permissible for men even during ceremonial celebrations like Pulikali and Theyyam, a woman’s nude body is sexualized and treated as an object of desire.
The petitioner’s goal in making and distributing the video, the court highlighted, was to draw attention to such different standards and teach her children bodily sensitivity. The court further stressed that the alleged accusations are untrue.
The lawsuit against controversial “activist” Rehana Fathima, which was being heard in the lower court over uploading a video of her kids painting on her half-naked body, was dismissed by the Kerala High Court.