Rape is the fourth most serious crime in India and a serious problem worldwide. It is generally a crime committed by men against women, but have we ever thought about it vice-versa? Historically, Rape was regarded as a crime committed by only men against women, but over time, it has been observed that members of other genders, such as men and transgender communities, are also victims of this crime. Anyone, regardless of age, gender or sexual relationship, can be raped. Although there are many such cases, most of them have not been reported because people fear that the report will raise questions about its effectiveness. Most cases of Rape against people other than women have not been reported. People have realized this, but they need to understand this type of crime, as it is necessary to maintain a proper legal system and get rid of this dreadful crime.
First of all, it is necessary to admit that the victims and offenders of Rape can be of any gender, and this crime can happen anywhere, such as in schools, offices, prisons, workplaces, schools, etc. Investigations on male rape victims did not begin until after the 1980s, and it mainly targeted the sexual harassment of minors. Even in the 21st century, it is difficult for male rape victims to report sexual abuse because we live in a society where if a man is sexually abused, people believe that he can protect himself by having a strong male power. Therefore, most people worry that reporting sexual abuse will raise questions about their sexual abilities, or a thought arises that if a man rapes them, they will be considered gay. Some people share their experiences, but mostly, the victims worry about not reporting their Rape to the public. A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Eastern Europe, USA) found that, according to reports, 1 in 17 people are forced to enter the house at a certain life stage. In a recent case in Mumbai, India, an RPF agent was accused of attempting to rape or commit a crime while still alive, but this patriarchal society does not believe that men can also be raped.
In most of these cases, consent is not taken. According to psychologist Sarah Khan, it is reported that less than one in ten male rapists are victims of male rape without any support and services, and there is a lack of a proper system of law against such crimes.
Section 375 of the Indian Criminal Code (IPC) 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. 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.
According to the above definition, under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, it can be assumed that men always confront women. When a woman forces a man to have sex with her, it is not Rape but a perpetrator. Thus, it is an assumed fact that a man is considered to rape a woman. However, it does not consider the man's consent regarding the sexual behaviour of the woman and always considers the woman to be the victim. In many cases, it is seen that a man False Rapes a woman to take revenge or commit an illegal act.
This shows that India has no specific laws for male rape victims; although Section 377 of the IPC that states that, whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished, is an exception to this, it is not sufficient to safeguard the rights of men in India.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO Act) criminalizes sexual assault on boys, but there are no such regulations for adult men. Sexual abuse of adult men is treated differently from that of adult women. The reason for this trend is unclear. India may have regulations on the Rape of boys, but it should also have regulations on the Rape of adult men. The conservative view is that only men who use their power to exploit women make men vulnerable. Sexual assaults and crimes against women and children do not seem to have the sense of equality guaranteed by Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. All laws must be gender-neutral, so any strongest law designed to protect women must also consider sexual crimes against men and other genders.
Criticisms and pitfalls of criminal jurisprudence
The lack of gender neutrality may be one of the most important features of Indian rape laws. Indian law must be developed according to the needs and requirements of its subject. History has shown that some laws that focus on women's safety and well-being have been abused, prompting legislators and courts to intervene and correct mistakes. The promise of equality and equal protection provided for in the law contained in Article 14 of the Constitution seems to have lost contact with our legislators in drafting laws on sexual harassment. The judiciary does not intend to discriminate against male victims of sexual harassment, but unfortunately, men are rarely seen as victims on this issue. Sexual harassment laws that are not related to gender take time and must be passed by the government to eliminate unintentional gender discrimination and provide equal protection. However, the Supreme Court rejected the gender-neutral law, stating a valid classification for a crime committed by a woman on a man. CJI Dipak Misra stated that the court is not saying that a woman cannot rape a man, but those circumstances would come under different offences under IPC. A plea similar to this was made in the Supreme Court earlier this year that challenged the constitutional validity of adultery laws in the country that would only punish a married man having an extra-marital sexual relationship with another married woman. A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud and Chief Justice Dipak Misra took a prima facie view that although the criminal law focuses on "gender neutrality", this concept was absent under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the offence of adultery and therefore, referred this matter to a larger bench.
The penalty for any crime should be as severe as committed and should not be limited to any specific category. It should apply to all citizens, regardless of their gender. Pain is unparalleled, and everyone is the same. Whether male, female or transgender, survivors suffer the same physical, mental, and emotional distress. Gender terms indicate that a man cannot report a woman's sexual assault, because according to the definition of Rape, it can only be committed by a man. A person can file a lawsuit under the influence of violence or beating but not Rape. Even if the action is the same, the punishment for the person is not Rape. India is adapting and making changes to make itself a successful country. So why do we fall behind when the question of raping a man comes? The United Kingdom has gender-neutral laws. Therefore Indian legal system and its citizens must also recognize that even women can rape men. The law should also recognize men as victims and not just criminals. It is necessary to bring awareness about male sexual harassment, and the government and society must change the social stereotypes and hear the pain of male victims.