Indian court rules that groping without removing clothes is not sexual assault

An Indian court has ruled that groping a child through their clothing does not constitute sexual assault, drawing outrage across the country and frustrating campaigners battling to address widespread sexual abuse against women and children.

Last month, a Bombay High Court judge found that a 39-year-old man was not guilty of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl as he had not removed her clothes, so there was no skin-on-skin contact.

According to court documents, the man brought the child to his house on the pretext of giving her guava in December 2016. While there, he touched her chest and tried to remove her underwear.

He was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to three years in prison in a lower court, but then appealed to the High Court. In the judgment on January 19, Justice Ganediwala acquitted the accused of sexual assault but convicted him on the lesser charge of molestation and sentenced him to one year in prison.

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