Mumbai, Jan. 19: An anti-globalisation conference got sucked into an allegation of rape when a South African judge was arrested on charges of forcing a fellow South African delegate to have sex in his hotel room.
The judge, who is not being named because rape has not been proved yet, was picked up by police last night after the 27-year-old married woman — both are part of the South African delegation to the World Social Forum — lodged a complaint.
“We have registered a case against the South African judge and the matter is under investigation,” said Ahmed Javed, joint commissioner of police.
The 53-year-old judge — who is of Indian descent — from Cape Town has denied the charge, saying the two met through mutual consent.
In an SMS message to The Star newspaper of South Africa, he said: “I am innocent. I find rape offensive.”
He was remanded in judicial custody till January 23 and bail will be moved tomorrow.
Organisers of the Forum said the incident was in no way related to the conference that some 100,000 people from across the world are attending.
“We have called a meeting to strongly condemn the incident,” said a spokesperson as news of the incident spread.
“It took place in a hotel in south Mumbai and the Forum does not have anything to do with it.”
The judge’s India lawyer, C.S. Irani, said the judge and the woman, who works on an AIDS project in South Africa, had gone to a downtown pub as part of a group and, after returning in the late hours, had gone back to their rooms. She joined him later on his invitation in his room.
South African newspapers, however, quoted her as saying she had gone there because she had made an appointment to talk about a community project.
“I think he must have got the wrong impression,” the Cape Times quoted her as saying.
“There was a lot of kissing and holding... and there was a point where I wanted him to back off but he continued. The result was that there was sex without consent,” she told a radio station.
Irani denied the use of force. He said as proof of the alleged rape, the woman gave the police the condom he had used. The lawyer said in a case of forced sex, the woman would not be in possession of the condom.
Asked if they were looking into allegations that the woman had fabricated the story, the police said they were waiting for the results of the investigation.
The judge and the woman were tested medically and material evidence was taken from the room of the hotel at Cuffe Parade.
The Star quoted her husband, speaking from South Africa, on its website as saying he had spoken to the judge after the alleged incident and after being alerted to it by his wife.
“This is so sad,” the husband said. “I told him this would bring shame on South Africa.
“I can’t move. I don’t feel like eating or drinking. He has caused tremendous problems in my young family.
“My seven-year-old daughter overheard me talking about it and she has gone very quiet.”
The husband said he had suggested over the phone that the judge should ask for forgiveness.
“He told me he couldn’t do that because there was nothing to forgive,” the husband said.
He said he had spoken to his wife when she was outside the court.
“She cries and wants me to come to India but I’m battling to get help for the air ticket,” he said. “I’m not sure when she’s due home — her air ticket is for Thursday.”