Why I Believe That Rape Laws Must Be Made Gender-Neutral
A few days ago, a Facebook friend confided in me about his sexual abuse. He wanted to talk about his abuse publicly or at least to his family, but he was afraid of being ridiculed or simply not believed. And, I was left wondering on how he could make the world believe it, when Indian law itself doesn’t believe that men can be raped. And, what good would coming out about it do when he could not punish the perpetrator because she is a woman? After all, women can’t rape & men can’t be raped, isn’t it? Our own Indian law believes so!
In 2013, the Center passed its stop-gap Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, which substituted ‘sexual assault’ for ‘rape’ and made the crime gender-neutral from the aspect of both perpetrators and victim. While the recognition of male victims and female perpetrators was solved, it did not use the word “rape”, which was a significant omission. Yet this amendment was reversed the same year.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Court states, rape is something that only a man can do to a woman and if such an act is committed against a man, he can only complain to the police but cannot prosecute the accused in the court of law.
21% of Sri Lankan males who were seen at a London torture treatment centre reported sexual abuse while in detention. In El Salvador, 76% of male political prisoners surveyed in the 1980s described at least one incidence of sexual torture. A study of 6,000 concentration-camp inmates in Sarajevo found that 80% of men reported having been raped.
Despite of all these cases, why is it that the following beliefs are still so prevalent in people’s minds?
“Men can be sodomised but not raped.”
“Real men can defend themselves against rape.”
“Men are not affected by rape or not as much as women.”
“A woman cannot sexually assault a man.”
“Male victims are lucky.”
No one enjoys sex if it’s not by their consent. No, nobody enjoys being violated or being forced upon. Every rape victim feels pain as the other victim, if not less or more, irrespective of whether it’s a man or a woman.
And, while a woman’s virginity is questioned when she’s raped, a man’s masculinity or the lack of it is questioned & ridiculed when he is raped.
I’m tired of hearing “Mard ko dard nahi hota” & “Men don’t cry”.
Are they made of iron & steel? Don’t they have feelings? Don’t they have tear glands?
Don’t ask them to ‘Man up’ & deal with it. Human up & shut the hell up.
How long would it take the Indian government to realize that men are as human as women & equality means equal rights? That rape is a gender neutral offence & thus there should be equal provision for men too to seek redressal & punishment for their perpetrators?
Or, is justice turning a blind eye to the woes of sexually abused men because “real men can’t cry”?