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Indian judge denounces actor's sex comments

By Thangavel Appachi
BBC Tamil, Delhi

Kushboo
Kushboo's comments created a stir

An Indian actress who supports the right of women to have pre-marital sex has been criticised by one of the country's most senior judges.

Kushboo is being prosecuted in her adopted home state of Tamil Nadu for outraging public decency.

She is trying to have the proceedings against her dropped by appealing to the Supreme Court in Delhi.

But Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan was not sympathetic towards her arguments, saying they were "difficult to accept".

Cultural taboo

"It is difficult to digest her statement," he said. "We cannot accept her contention that she did not commit any offence."

Kushboo, who is now also a prominent TV show host, said in a 2005 interview to a magazine that there was "nothing wrong in women having pre-marital sex, but they should follow all precautionary measures".

She said that it was also "not fair on any educated youth to expect his wife to be a virgin".

The remarks stirred controversy in a conservative country where pre-marital sex is still a cultural taboo.

Some Tamil nationalist political groups accused the actress of making derogatory and obscene remarks against Tamil culture.

Several cases have been filed against her across Tamil Nadu in various courts under different sections of the Indian penal code.

If found guilty, she faces imprisonment or a fine.

Feminists and human rights activists have joined the fray, arguing that the cases against her amount to harassment and are a breach of her right to free speech.

The actress herself has defended her remarks by arguing that she was only expressing a personal opinion in the context of gender equality and the status of women in society.

She said she did not have any intention to offend any community or defame the traditions, customs or culture of the state of Tamil Nadu.

The Supreme Court has now ordered her to produce the complete transcripts of her controversial interview in two weeks' time.



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