In India, rape ranks as the fourth most heinous crime, and the issue is widespread. Although it is typically men that conduct crimes against women, have we ever considered the opposite?
Rape was once thought to exclusively be committed by men against women, but as time has gone on, it has become clear that victims of other genders, including men and transgender groups, are equally affected by this crime. Anyone can be raped, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation.
Even though there are several instances of this, the most of them have not been disclosed because people are concerned that doing so will cast doubt on the program's efficacy. The majority of rapes committed against victims other than women have gone unreported. People are aware of this, but they still need to comprehend it in order to keep the judicial system functioning properly and eradicate this horrible crime.
Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that rape may happen anywhere—in jails, workplaces, schools, offices, etc.—and that both victims and perpetrators can be of any gender. Investigations into male rape victims did not start until after the 1980s, and they mostly focused on juveniles who were being sexually harassed.
Even in the twenty-first century, it is challenging for male rape victims to come out and report sexual assault because our culture holds that if a guy is sexually abused, he may defend himself by having a strong male strength. Therefore, the majority of people are concerned that disclosing sexual assault will cast doubt on their sexual prowess or that they will be regarded as gay if they are raped by a male. While some people talk about their experiences, most victims are concerned about avoiding making their rape public. According to estimates, 1 in 17 persons are compelled to enter the house at a particular life stage, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Eastern Europe, USA).
An RPF agent was recently charged in Mumbai, India, with attempting to rape or commit a crime while still alive, yet this patriarchal society does not accept the notion that males may also be raped. Most of the time, no consent is obtained. Less than one in ten male rapists is known to be unsupported victims of male rape, and there is no effective legal framework to prevent such crimes, according to psychologist Sarah Khan.
Indian Rape Law: According to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), rape is defined as engaging in sexual activity with a woman against her will, without her consent, through coercion, misrepresentation, or fraud, while she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, has been duped, or is mentally unsound, and in any case if she is under the age of 18. A man is considered to rape when the following conditions are met: He enters a woman's vagina, mouth, urethra or anus in any way or forces her to do so, on him or others. Or insert or press any object or body part other than the penis into a woman's vagina, urethra or anus to any extent; Or manipulates any part of a woman's body to force her or others to enter into her vagina, urethra, the anus or any part of the body; Or put his mouth on the woman's vagina, anus, urethra, or force her to do this to him or another person.
As stated above, it can be inferred that men always confront women under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. It is not rape when a woman forces a guy to have sex with her; rather, she is the perpetrator. As a result, it is presumed that a guy has raped a woman. However, it never takes into account the man's agreement with relation to the woman's sexual behavior and always views the woman as the victim.
It is frequently observed that men falsely rape women in order to exact vengeance or carry out illegal acts. This demonstrates that there are no laws specifically protecting male rape victims in India. Section 377 of the IPC, which provides for punishment of anyone who engages in voluntary carnal intercourse with a man, woman, or animal in violation of nature is an exception to this rule, but it is still insufficient to protect men's rights in India.
Sexual assault against boys is illegal under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012 (POCSO Act), but adult men are not subject to the same laws. Adult male sexual abuse is handled differently from adult female sexual abuse.
Uncertainty surrounds the cause of this development. India may have laws prohibiting the rape of youngsters, but such laws also ought to apply to the rape of adult males. According to the conservative perspective, males are only vulnerable when they use their position of authority to oppress women. The spirit of equality established by Article 14 of the Indian Constitution does not seem to apply to sexual assaults and crimes against women and children.
Any robust regulation intended to protect women must also take into account sexual offences against men and other genders because all laws must be gender-neutral. The lack of gender neutrality in Indian rape laws may be one of the most significant flaws and hazards of criminal law. Indian law must be formed in accordance with the wants and needs of its target population. History demonstrates that several laws that prioritize the security and welfare of women have been misused, leading politicians and courts to step in and redress errors. When establishing rules against sexual harassment, our legislators appear to have forgotten the guarantee of equality and equal protection stated in Article 14 of the Constitution. The judiciary does not seek to treat male sexual harassment victims differently, but sadly, men are not often viewed as victims in this situation. To remove inadvertent gender discrimination and ensure equal protection, the government must establish sexual harassment legislation that is unrelated to gender.
The Supreme Court, in contrast, ruled that a crime committed by a woman against a man has a legitimate classification and rejected the gender-neutral law. According to CJI Dipak Misra, the court is not suggesting that a woman cannot rape a man, but that would fall under distinct offences under the IPC in specific situations. Similar arguments were raised before the Supreme Court earlier this year over the constitutionality of the nation's adultery rules, which solely penalize married men who engage in extramarital relationships with married women. The matter was referred to a larger bench by a bench consisting of Justices A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, and Chief Justice Dipak Misra who took the initial position that while “gender neutrality” is emphasized in criminal law, it is not present in Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the offense of adultery.
Any offense should carry a punishment that is as harsh as the crime itself, without any exceptions. It needs to be applicable to all citizens, male or female.
Everyone experiences pain equally, and it is unmatched. Survivors experience the same level of physical, mental, and emotional pain regardless of gender. Due to the fact that rape can only be perpetrated by a man, gender words suggest that a guy cannot disclose a woman's sexual assault. Under the impact of violence or a beating, a person may file a case, but not for rape. Even though the action is the same, rape is not the appropriate punishment for the offender.
India is adapting and changing to become a prosperous nation. Why then do we lag when the subject of raping a man comes up? The laws in the UK are gender-neutral. As a result, both the Indian legal system and its populace must accept the fact that women can rape men. Men should be treated as victims by the law, not merely as offenders. It is important to raise awareness of male sexual harassment, and both the government and society need to listen to male victims' suffering and change social prejudices.
This article is written by Khalid Ali Khan Afridi of PSIT College of Law.