restricted access 7. The Child Bears Witness: Menace, Despair, and Hope in a Courtroom

This chapter explores how the child witness, who testifies to rape, inhabits the juridical field, when female childhood has not been the object of legislation on rape historically in India. While the first principle of statutory rape cases is that children below the age of consent are presumed not to have the capacity to consent to sexual intercourse, the chapter argues shows that if the law makes the courtroom habitable for female children it does so by inscribing on their bodies those very conditions of testimony that apply to adult women. It argues that while such testimonial conditions presume that the child must learn to gaze at her body as an adult body. At the same time, the child witness must testify to rape in childlike categories, retaining suggestions of innocence.