When we talk about horrendous crime, RAPE- the first thing that strikes us is that woman or a child is the only victim of this crime. Isn't it disgraceful for us to think that only women or children have been the victims of this heinous crime? Not to think that men can be raped too, and to ignore this would be ignominious in the face of equality before the law. Rape affects men just as it does women and children. Thinking that men are strong enough, how can they be raped, well this is a stereotype that men cannot be raped.
Section 375(9) of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as "sexual intercourse with a “woman” against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age."
There are two conspicuous inferences from the aforementioned section-
1. A rape offender must be a man.
2. A rape victim is invariably a woman.
This clearly manifests that there is no room for offenses against adult male rapes in India. Given that rape cannot be committed against men under Indian law, there is no way to regulate the male survivors in India. At most, they can be sodomized under Section 377 (10) of the IPC, which is based on the Buggery Act of 1533, which defines unnatural sex as an “Act against God.”
Sodomity means anal or oral intercourse between human beings, or any sexual relations between a human being and an animal, the act of which may be punishable as a criminal offense.
All other laws and sections, with the exception of this one, are aimed solely at women. This disparity in the treatment of male rape versus female rape is undermining our constitution's egalitarianism.
Even there are provisions made against child rapists. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences ACT of 2012 defines a child of the age 18 or below as protected by sexual harassment and sexual intercourse. Here, a child is either male or female.
If India can have provisions for the rape of a woman or a child, would laws for the rape of a man be erroneous? Why can’t there be provisions made for the rape of a man? Just because they are considered strong masculine bodies, would that be fair enough to exempt men, from making laws for them against rape? The conservative belief that only men use power to exploit women has left men vulnerable is disheartening.
Looking at the ground reality in the survey of 1500 men by Insia Dariwala, 71 percent of the men said they had been abused, and 84.9 percent said they had not told anyone about the abuse prime reasons being shame, confusion, fear, and guilt.(a)
About 18 percent of Indian adult men surveyed by the Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society said they were forced to engage in sexual activity. On the other hand, only 2 percent of those alleged a male perpetrator. (b)
When Ram Singh, an accused in Delhi gang-rape was found hanging in his cell, he claimed that he was raped by other male prisoners. G. Pramod Kumar, a writer for the website Firstpost, quotes The People's Union of Civil Liberties as saying about Tihar in 1981: “When a young boy enters, the prisoners have been known to have bid a price for the boy. The price offered is in terms of ‘bidis’, soap or charas. Often prisoners have been divided into camps and the groups have fought each other on the issue of who shall have the new entrant”.(c)
Due to the fact that rape in India is defined as the insertion of a penis or other object into the vagina, the number and frequency of male rapes and sexual assaults have been on the rise.
For instance, on June 16, 2018, a 20-year-old boy in Ghaziabad was sexually assaulted by five men, a foreign object was placed in his rectum, but due to paucity of law, the case was filed under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). But if it was a 20-year-old girl, she would have been treated differently with enactment of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, where the definition of rape is no longer limited to cases of penile-vaginal penetration, but also includes penetration of a woman's vagina, mouth, urethra, anus, or any other part of her body by a man using any object or part of his body. (d)
But it again remains gender specific. This means IPC presumes the victim is female and the perpetrator is male and does not consider sexual assaults on a male or transgender person's body or sexual assaults committed by a female or transgender person as rapes.
GENDER NEUTRALITY OF RAPE LAWS
In March 2000, the 172nd law commission of India recommended that India's rape laws be gender-neutral to protect male victims as well as female victims. The underlying assumption is that rape will be desexualized, and the stigma associated with it will disappear. Albeit of the suggestions made, the government didn't act on them.
"Gender-neutrality" refers to eradicating the social structures that separate and assign specific roles to people according to their gender or sexual orientation I KTS Tulsi, a senior lawyer and member of the Rajya Sabha, introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha in July 2019 to make sexual offenses in India gender-neutral.(e)
The Bill seeks to replace gender-specific words like "any man" and "any woman" mentioned in 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 375, and 376 of IPC with gender-neutral ones. This would provide protections to all gender i.e women, men, and transgender. Also included in the bill is an amendment to Section 354 of the IPC to add Section 8A, which defines modesty. As a result, the demand for the inclusion of all of these sections is aimed at increasing the scope of sexually violent acts and bringing them within reach of the law.
LAWS IN OTHER COUNTRIES
As the UK and the US have been the great sources of the Indian Constitution, let’s look at what these countries have to say about male rape.
US- "Raping" is defined as any penetration without consent, regardless of whether the victim is a woman or a girl.
UK- The UK did not have gender-neutral laws prior to the R v Ismail case, which ruled that courts should not differentiate between vaginal, anal, and oral rape in terms of punishment. Section 142 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 was the first to recognize male-victim rape.
The stereotype that men cannot be raped should be put to an end. Why lag behind in provisions relating to male rapes when they are adapting and making changes that can help make India a successful country? Gender-neutral rape law is needed in India, as countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have such laws.
Women are capable of raping men, and the Indian legal system and its citizens need to accept this fact. By this, I don’t mean that men and women suffer or commit an equal proportion of rapes. Just as women are entitled to equal protection, so should men.
While it may be easy for us, it is unfair to those who do not fit the typical mould that we can easily understand when it comes to their own experiences of being sexually violated. It does an injustice to the male victims of our country. As a result, the government and society must take action against the sexual harassment of men, thereby changing society's stereotypical thinking.