Gender Neutrality in Rape laws in India

In a society where patriarchy rules, men and women are differentiated on all levels of life. Men are allowed to study, go out of house, move to different cities looking for job, coming late at night, wearing any kind of clothing and many more. However, the same privileges are not granted to women. Men in our society have been groomed as strong and emotionless cause showing emotions would make them a “woman”. There have been many instances in all of our lives where someone told a boy not to cry by saying “are you a girl that you are crying?” Our society focuses too much on keeping women safe by keeping them locked at home rather than improving their physical strength and the environment in which they live.

Due to women not being physically stronger, they were suppressed by the society. History is our witness and evidence which shows different ways our society suppressed women. Amongst the various restrictions put on women, one of them was to be careful in regards with their womanhood. Women were and are still told to safeguard their womanhood until they get married, yet the same is not said to the men in the society. This in itself disturbs the balance between men and women and can be said to be discriminatory. When men weren’t stopped from exploring and satisfying their manhood and pleasure, the evil amongst them took advantage of it. Sexual assault and misconduct became a part of the society and the solution for it was to keep girls inside and to ask them to wear “proper clothing.” However, this did not stop those evil men from creating havoc to the body and mind of the woman.

Over the years, laws were introduced for safeguarding the rights of the citizens and amongst the plethora of laws, there was the rape law. It was channel of justice for women to throw the rapists behind the bars. The law should have been enough to scare the evil men of the consequences which would be brought upon them if they committed such heinous crime of women. However, the law also could not stop them. According to a survey conducted by the NCRB i.e., National Crime Records Bureau, on an average 88 women were raped daily in 2019. Apart from the daily rape cases, the spectrum of women is quite wide in terms of being a victim to the hands of these evil men. From a three-month-old baby to orphan girls to young girls being raped in the crematory to Nirbhaya, Hathras and many more. These are just the cases the few cases which were reported and highlighted in the media. There are so many unreported rape cases where a woman or a man has been raped and they could not come up and speak. Yes, men are also a victim to the evil hands of the society. The very same society would mock a man on being raped. The society would question a man’s character and his manliness because he was raped or was sexually assaulted.

We all know the heinous crimes committed on women in India, but are we aware of the atrocities which happen to men? P Jayaraj and J Fenix, a father-son duo in Tamil Nadu died due to police brutality which also included being sodomized. There were friends and families who reported that both the father and son were excessively bleeding from their rectum. Now in such a case, where can the man go and seek justice for himself? The man cannot do so as the society we live in, will belittle him for something so horrible. There have been research conducted wherein it was pointed out that a woman in very rare cases could be the perpetrator in terms of penetrative rape. Few instances where the woman can be the perpetrator are – using her power of position and coercing the man into having sexual intercourse with her without his consent or intoxicate the man without his knowledge and have sexual intercourse with him without consent. In both the instances, the man is being sexually assaulted yet he has no legal remedy for himself. According to a survey conducted by Centre for Civil society, 18 percent of men were forced or coerced into having sexual intercourse, yet those victims of rape could not seek justice as they were not protected under the rape law.

Countries such as Australia, United Kingdom and Denmark  have already accepted gender neutral laws. That’s a change which is required for our society to make it into a better living environment for all the citizens i.e., men, women, transgender, etc. The laws in India should be made gender neutral in order to preserve the true essence of Article 14 of Indian constitution i.e., Right to equality , Article 15 of Indian constitution I.e., prohibition discrimination on grounds of sex and Article 21 i.e., right to life where both the genders can live a life with dignity. The law is not the only thing which needs to be amended, but the mindset of the society also needs to be changed. The society should be made aware of the statistics of men being raped and sexually assaulted in India and why they also need to be protected by the law. Hence, the rape laws should be gender neutral.