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Necrophilia is an obsession with and is usually erotic in interest or stimulation by corpses. The term is derived from the Greek word philia [attraction to/love] and necro [dead body]. It is generally categorized as a psychiatric disorder or sign of interest towards death or killing. Some cases happened a long time ago if we check the history. These are not something new that came in our society whereas it is a deeply rooted chronic issue with the only difference of less reporting than other crimes. The Greek author Herodotus stated that in Ancient Egypt, the dead bodies of women were not embalmed soon after the reporting of death. It was kept for some days with the shield of a lie that it is done to prevent a recurring similar case. But later it was found that an embalmer had sex with the body of a woman.


In today's world, we can find different types of crimes. And behind every crime and a criminal, there would be a situation or traumatic experience which led them to do a crime or which made them a criminal. It can even be some kind of childhood trauma that was not properly taken care of at the right time. Often, there could be some psychological issue behind people who do some crime. And some traumas you have experienced might be affecting your behavioral patterns which can even lead to the most heinous crime the world has seen. There is a direct relation between what lies in the depth of human nature and the reasons behind necrophilia. In a recent case study, several necrophiliac behaviors and fantasies were observed by researchers. Necrophiles usually like to pick the profession mostly related to dead bodies so that it is easy for them to fulfill their intentions.


Though there is a variety of necrophiliacs, some of the main classifications are as follows:

1. Homicidal necrophilia

This is also referred to as 'warm necrophilia' where the necrophiles murder someone to have sexual intercourse with them. If we check the history we can see an American serial killer 'Jeffrey Dahmer' is a well-known example for this category of people.

2. Regular Necrophilia

 People with this type of necrophilia would want to have sexual intercourse with the corpse even though they have the chance to have sexual relations with someone alive. They won't be satisfied with the living ones and would always crave the dead bodies. And these are the people who we hear about in the news about stealing corpses from mortuaries.

3. Romantic Necrophilia 

People with this type of necrophilia won't be able to accept the fact of the death of their loved ones. They keep on living with the dead body of their loved ones and will continue to have sexual relations with them.


There is no such specific section that mentions the term necrophilia under the Indian Penal Code or any other statutes. And it is also not mentioned under any of the sexual offenses. But in a recent case the court said that it can be brought under section 297 as causing "indignity to the human corpse". Trespassing into a place of funeral performances or mortuary would also come under this. However, it is also mentioned by the court that for the section to apply there should be elements of causing damage to the dignity followed by an intention to insult the feeling or religion of a person. In a recent case, the Karnataka High Court declared that engaging in sexual activity with a deceased lady cannot be considered rape or unnatural conduct under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 


With the ambiguity remaining in section 297 and section 377 of IPC as to whether necrophilia is a crime or not, it is time to make some amendments and take a step forward in criminalizing the act. Nearly all legislations have laws made against necrophilia. India comes under the category of countries where there is no proper law against this heinous crime which is still happening behind several doors of mortuaries and funeral places.

This article is written by Sunoja AM, Advocate.

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