Can a man acquitted of rape charges be addressed as a “rape case survivor” because nowadays, a “rape victim” is referred to as a “rape survivor”? – a special judge who examines sexual assault cases of children has posed this question.

Nivedita Anil Sharma brought this up on November 3 at a hearing at the Delhi District Court in Tis Hazari, after acquitting a man charged with rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

The police registered a complaint against the man in 2012-13, a month before the girl turned 18. According to the report, she had turned hostile while recording her statement before the court. At that time, she said she had a consensual “physical relationship” with the man, but his refusal to marry her upset her.

Judge Sharma said there were several contradictions between her statements to the police and to the court. The court then said that the accused did not just have to bear litigation costs, but had also suffered “humiliation, distress and misery”.

“No one discusses the honour and dignity of a man as all are only fighting for the rights, honour and dignity of women,” Sharma said. “Laws to protect women are being made, which may be misused, but where is the law to protect a man from such a woman where he is being persecuted and implicated in false cases, as in the present case? Perhaps now it is time to take a stand for a man.”

The judge has made similar observations in at least two previous instances. In October, she acquitted a man accused of abducting and raping a minor girl in 1997, and in 2016, she acquitted a lawyer accused of sexually assaulting his clerk.