Should rape be a gender-neutral crime that includes men and transgender people?

Should rape be a gender-neutral crime that includes men and transgender people?

Rape is India’s fourth most prominent crime and a serious problem across the globe. Have we ever thought about the possibility of women raping men? Gender neutrality in rape refers to the status that Indian rape law should recognize all genders which include males, females, and transgenders, etc. can be perpetrators as well as the victims of the rape.

Rape affects people of all genders, including males, homosexuals, and the transgender community, as we have seen over time. Rape also affects women. This finding underlines the possibility of rape for people of all gender identities and emphasises the fact that men and women may both commit rape. In fact, regardless of age, gender, sexual attitude, rape can happen to anybody. Although there are a large number of such cases, most of them go unreported because individuals fear that reporting such cases will raise a question about their potency.

Since these crimes frequently go undetected, only a small minority of people are aware of sexual offences against people other than women. To counteract such horrible acts, it is crucial to maintain appropriate law and order, nevertheless. It is possible to actively inform and educate individuals about these circumstances in a one-hour period. We need to acknowledge that the victim and perpetrator of rape can be of any sex and can take place anywhere, such as school, office, prisons, workplaces, coaching, etc. We need to aggressively inform and educate people about these circumstances, and we can do that in an hour.

Male Rapes:

The male rape cases were studied intensively only after the 1980s and mainly focused only on child sexual assaults. Due to the dominant cultural belief that males are capable of defending themselves and others, reporting sexual assault is still difficult for male rape victims in the 21st century. Because most people believe males to have tremendous authority, they worry that if they disclose their sexual assault, it would cast doubt on their strength or, if a man committed the crime, it will cast them as gay. Some can come forward and share their experiences, but there are still many men who, because of the fear of society, never report their rape. In terms of a sense of shame, humiliation, and self-blame, personal stories of male rape mirror female rape, but males are even less likely to report an assault than females.

According to a survey by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 17 males have experienced forced penetration at some time in their life. The majority of these male sexual victims—about 86.5 percent—also said that the assailants were men. There is a propensity to downplay and refuse to recognise the existence of male rape victims in patriarchal societies like India. During his lifetime, nearly 1 in every 38 men experienced an attempted or completed rape.

Indian Laws on Rape

Sec 375 [9] of IPC mentions 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”.

An analysis of the above-mentioned is:
  • A rape offender is always a man
  • A rape victim is always a woman

Therefore, the whole definition takes the rape of only women into account and there is no provision for male or third gender rape. It shows that if a male rapes another male or female rape a male, there’s no particular law in India. The needs and rights of women alone are the primary focus of all other laws and sections. This inequality in the treatment of male rape as a result of female rape affects the equality of our constitution.

Although the insertion of the penis or any other object into the vagina is the exclusive definition of sexual assault, incidences of male rape have significantly increased. Unfortunately, the existing law is having little to no effect. In a distressing event that happened in Ghaziabad in 2018, four men sexually assaulted a 20-year-old kid and shoved something into his rectum. However, no complaint was ever made since it did not meet the legal requirements for rapist.

Transgender Rapes:

Although rape is gender centric crime that affects females in society most of the time, there is no denial in the fact that transgenders also face a lot of sexual harassment. There is no such law that considers transgenders. As the above-mentioned analysis suggests that the rapist can only be a man and a victim will always be a woman, hence, this has given rise to rapes against the “third gender”.  While the Supreme Court recognised the transgender community as a “third gender” and as “persons” by amending Article 14 in the wake of the NALSA ruling, prejudice against the group still exists in many facets of society.

There are only a handful of colleges that permit them to study and also they have very few professional opportunities. In 2016, the University of California at Berkeley’s conducted a study along with Civilian Welfare Foundation, an NGO based in Kolkata, India. It involved 300 doctors who were mapped on their prejudice against the transgender community and its effect on communication and treatment towards the trans community. The transgender community’s participants described instances in which they sought medical assistance after being gang-raped only to be met with remarks like “how can you get raped,” demonstrating the extent of transphobia among medical professionals. These incidents show how the medical community lacks compassion and understanding when it comes to sexual abuse against the transgender population.

Consequently, there is a dire need to amend the molest laws of our country which should not be gender-specific and should consider all the genders as victims and preparators. The Patricentric society effeminates males who are raped and as a result, it is less reported. Although the POSCO Act upholds gender neutrality, Section 375 of the IPC still need modifications.

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