Can a woman be raped during unconsciousness?

There is no doubt that rape can be committed on a women without her being aware of the act during catalepsy, syncope, epileptic coma or mesmeric or hypnotic trance, or during unconsciousness produced by the administration of narcotic and intoxicating or anaesthetic drugs. However, soon after the recovery of consciousness, a nubile virgin would feel pain, tenderness and dampness about her private parts, and would probably find her underwear soiled with blood or semen or with both. She is, therefore, hound to complain about her condition to her relatives or friend, but her story would be looked upon with suspicion if she complained after a lapse of some time that she was violated during the period of her unconsciousness.

When a women complains to the police that she was given a narcotic drug, such as opium, dhatura, chloral hydrate or some other similar drug with the object of making her unconscious, she should be sent immediately to a medical officer, who should examine her to ascertain if she manifested any sign of the ingestion of the alleged drug, and her to ascertain of she manifested any sign of the ingestion of the alleged drug, and should inquire of her as to how it was given to her and the symptoms she developed after taking it.

Concerning the administration of an anaesthetic drug, such as chloroform, it must be remembered that it is impossible to anaesthetic a woman against her will while she is awake. Even a skilled anaesthetist requires the help of one or two assistants to hold a patient forcibly down on the operating table during the first stage of anaesthesia although the patient voluntarily inhales it for an operation. It is also impossible for an inexperienced man to anaesthetise a sleeping person without disturbance so as to substitute artificial sleep for natural sleep. Hence, the story often published in the lay press, such as Times of India, of a woman having been rendered suddenly unconscious by a handkerchief soaked in chloroform held over her face and then raped, is not to be believed and often rejected in the court. It must be borne in mind that a woman, especially of an excitable and emotional temperament during the stage of anaesthesia, might get a dream or hallucination that she has been raped, and may insist on the belief after the effect of the anaesthesia have passed off, so that she bring an accusation of violation against her medical attendant. How surprising is that? So as a precautionary measure against such an accusation, the medical practitioner should never administer a general anaesthetic to a female without the presence of another person, preferable a near relation of hers.

The supreme court held in Bhonri v state AIR 1955 NUC 473 that in the case of a married woman merely presence of spermatozoa indicating semen found on her genitals or on her shari would not be enough evidence of rape, particularly when she admits of her recent intercourse with her husband, (Adbul Aziz v. Emperor AIR 1934 Nag 94, p 97), as also in the case of grown up women used to sexual intercourse. (Inder Singh v. Emperor AIR 1927 Lah 876) the presense of blood in the vagina may be due to other local injuries or occurrence of the periodic bleeding (menses) in pregnant women right up to the sixth moth of pregnancy. Spermatozoa indicating semen found in the woman’s genitals or on her saree is not a conclusive proof of rape in the case of married woman. (Re Karichiappa Goundan, AIR 1942 Mad 285, 43 Cr Lj 576)

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