Gender Inequality is one of the most significant exhibitions of inequality
worldwide. As a result of a very strong feminist movement that began in the
middle of the twentieth century, which shed light on the gross inequalities and
atrocities suffered by women on a daily basis, it was felt necessary to make
amendments to the law so that women could be equal with men.
The laws we began with were fair, perhaps entirely legitimate for the times, but
the dawn of the past day has put men in such a gullible position that they are
victimized by the so-called women empowering
laws. Much less has been talked about how we have
become a prison state by approving virtually all possible draconian laws in
order to curb crimes against women, to condone arbitrary arrests of ordinary
citizens and to imprison them in deplorable conditions.
This decade has
therefore recognized the need for a ‘gender neutral’ society. The Oxford
dictionary describes ' gender neutrality' as an adjective for male and female
sexes, applicable or common. It describes the idea that policies, language
and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles by sex or gender
and stresses the equal treatment of men and women without any discrimination.
The Indian Penal Code lists down all cases and punishments which a person who
commits any crime is liable for and covers any Indian citizen or person of
Indian origin. Section 2 of the Indian Penal Code states:
Every person shall be
liable to punishment under this Code and not otherwise for every act or omission
contrary to the provisions thereof, of which he shall be guilty
within India. As laid down in this section, the law does not distinguish
between criminals, and anyone who has committed an offense is punishable under
this Code. However, the assumed belief that every kind of violence is
perpetrated by men not only creates a gender divide in the society but also acts
as a safeguard for the offences committed by women.
One of the few anti-male laws in the Indian Penal Code is the section 375 on
rape.As per this section it is mandatory to be a man to officially rape
someone, and a woman to officially get raped. This section does not accept men
as victims of rape. The anti-sodomy law of India i.e. Section 377, IPC which
has now been read down by the Indian Supreme court, was the only resort for male
However even with respect to section 377 in case a male victim was
attacked by a male attacker, it was not regarded as rape. There is absolutely no
difference between consensual and non-consensual sex between male adults as per
the law. In addition, if a woman is the perpetrator, the victim is left with no
resort in order to seek justice.
Other aspects regarding sec 375 which highlight the gender inequality in the
law are as follows:
- A man having sexual intercourse without the will of a woman: There is no
way to prove the will of a woman. A woman could have had consensual sex and
still claim rape with a vengeful attitude.
- As per section 376B/C/D, IPC public servants/ higher-ups who
seduce a woman taking advantage of their position and have sex with her are
liable to incarceration. There is no such penalty for women seeking sexual
favours from men. Likewise, men are not protected against false and frivolous
claims made by women with malicious intentions.
- A man cannot break up with a woman with whom he had sex after promising
to marry her. Otherwise he would be perceived as a rapist as per the Indian
laws. In case a girl does the same thing, it would be regarded as women
- There is no age of consent in the case of men. A 16 year old boy can be
charged of rape even in a case where he has consensual sex with a girl of
the same age.
Keeping the aforementioned aspects in mind, it can be construed that there is a
dire need to recognise and accept the fact that men in our country are raped and
are also victims of physical and mental abuse. They deserve as much protection
as women from such grave crimes.
As far as rape reforms in India are concerned,
the Verma Committee's recommendations must be re-examined and the gender
neutrality of rape and sexual assault, as mentioned in the recommendation, must
be put forth as law.
Only by recognising male rape, can men come up with their
complaints and seek justice. It will also have a psychological effect on the
psyche of males; that if they are included in the definition of rape, they will
realize that such a heinous crime can be committed even against them by another
person be it a male or a female, and that they will have to face the same amount
of pain and agony just like a female does. Crimes like rape occur regardless of
gender, caste, colour, nationality, and sexual orientation.
Provisions should be
made where the plight of a man can be heard without any hesitation on his part
and allows him to report such crimes without any fear. The current definition of
rape, as laid down in the IPC, does not protect male rape victims.
Thus there is
an urgent need for the introduction of a gender-neutral rape law which comprises
of reliefs for both male and female. It is time for men and women to unite and
speak with one voice in building a culture against rape.
Written By: Udita Dalal
- Gender Neutrality Oxford Dictionary
- Sec. 2, The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Sec. 375, The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Sec. 377, The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Sec. 376, The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Justice J.S.Verma, Justice Leila Seth and Gopal Subramaniam, Report Of
The Committee On Amendments To Criminal Law, 2013.