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Sexual Violence against Men in India

Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person's sexuality, regardless of the relationship to the victim.

In India, laws are made to only protect women from sexual harassment or rape. There are no legislations or statutes to protect men from the ruthless act of sexual harassment or rape. Under Indian law, there is only Section 377 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 which talks about 'sodomy'. All the other sections are meant for women. The key thing to be noted is that for committing sexual violence, the perpetrator and the victim can be of any gender, unlike what is mentioned in Section 354A to 354D and Section 375 of The Indian Penal Code, which states that only a man can be the perpetrator.

Statement of Problem
Sexual violence can happen to anyone, no matter what their gender, age or sexuality is. Research on crimes against women is being done extensively across the world but the dug hole which has still not been filled is that a handful number of people are aware of similar crimes being committed on men. The word 'man' is gender-biased, denotes power, is embedded with masculine behaviour, appearance, and control of emotion (it is generally believed that men have less emotions than women, although no scientific evidence is available). It is a common belief and perception that separates male and female in terms of expression of their feelings. It can be a matter of shame for men to disclose their suffering in a men-dominated society, as it can be perceived as 'feminine behaviour'.

Scope of the Study
Through this research paper, the author would like to discuss the biasness of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 towards the lack of legislations and statutes in recognition of men as victims of sexual violence. The researcher would inspect the acts of sexual violence committed against men in Indian workplace and the failure of Vishakha Guidelines to acknowledge men as victims of sexual violence. Further, Section 354 and Section 375 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 are analysed. The researcher would then further discuss the importance of making laws related to sexual violence in India gender-neutral.

Sexual violence refers to a situation when someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Rape Crisis UK describes sexual violence as a general term used to describe any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity, including but not limited to rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and genital mutilation.

A sensitive and prevalent issue in society today, includes crimes committed against women. The conventional image present in the minds of the people when they hear about these crimes is that a man is the perpetrator, which is the foundation of many stereotypes and gender inequalities present in our society.

According to Roberta Chinsky Matuson. Many people believe that sexual violence is limited to females. There is no doubt that crimes against females are increasing expeditiously across the world, yet it remains true that crimes against men are also committed. It is unjust that minimal attention is paid to the crimes committed on men or the inequalities faced by them in the society.
Several people believe that men cannot be sexually harassed. For them, this act is so unusual that they consider it a bluff.

In India, only a woman can be legally considered as a victim of sexual violence and at the same time, only a man can be legally considered to be the perpetrator. In cases where a man is the victim is not considered a crime under The Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Several countries like Denmark, United Kingdom and Australia have proposed and accepted gender-neutral laws. It is startling, that despite these changes around the world, Indian Judiciary has continued to rebuff the demand to introduce gender-neutral laws against sexual violence in India.

These gender-biased laws create a feeling of inferiority amongst men and prevent them from attaining justice. Thus, it is imperative that both men and women get equal protection from law in order to reduce prejudices and the outdated social stigmas prevalent in the society.

Sexual Violence Against Men

Sexual Violence can happen to any soul, no matter what their age, sexual orientation or gender identity is.

We often hear cases about violence against women which include but are not limited to domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape. Numerous laws are made to protect women and people often raise our voices for the injustices suffered by them, but at the same time we fail to acknowledge the fact that men are also subjected to sexual violence, and when we preach about gender equality, then does that equality even exist?

According to Section 375 of The Indian Penal Code, rape is a crime that only sees men as the perpetrator and women as the victim and not vice-versa. It is believed that women cannot rape men. The Penile Penetration Condition is a requirement for a rape charge.

The Penile Penetration Condition is justified on the basis that:
  1. It is physically and biologically impossible for a woman to rape a man
  2. It is a more serious offence to forcefully penetrate someone that to force someone to penetrate you
  3. Rape is a gendered crime
However, these justifications are misleading as a woman engaging in conjugal relations with a man without his consent is committing rape and should be punished accordingly.

In India, Article 14 of our constitution guarantees 'Right to Equality'. This article, however, is frequently violated because our legislation does not take in account the issues of sexual violence against men or the fact that the laws which govern the punishments related to rape entirely exclude men. Contrarily, children of all genders are covered under the 'Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The Indian Judiciary and society, talk about equal rights for men and women. These dismissals to make laws for sexual harassment or rape as gender neutral, dismally, showcase the violation of Right to Equality The Indian Judicial system works hard to protect women from sexual violence, and while that is a great feat, it is discriminatory to neglect the plight of men who are subjected to sexual violence.

When Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed to make rape a gender-neutral crime, it was opposed by various women groups. International human rights lawyer and activist Vrinda Grover said in an interview with India Times, There are no instances of women raping men. I don't think men are facing serious sexual violence issues as women Conversely, about two in five victims of domestic violence are men, hence contradicting the widespread impression that only women are the ones who face violence on the hands of their husbands or their families.

However recently, Indian Courts have started to recognise crimes against men and are also punishing women who are making false allegations against men and consequently, defaming and harassing them. The Indian Government has also introduced a Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2019 which, proposes to make rape laws gender-neutral.

It is time that society starts focussing on equality in gender equality. By having gender-biased laws that favour women in the cases of sexual violence, most of the cases where men face sexual violence remain unreported and justice is not served to them. The Indian Judiciary should focus on creating new gender-neutral laws or amend the current laws to make them gender-neutral so that there is equality amongst men and women in the country.

Technology and Sexual Violence

Men who have been a subject of sexual violence may have similar emotions as other survivors of sexual violence but their emotions are often negated due to stereotypes prevalent on masculinity and are scared of social ridicule. The fear of getting taunted, mocked or insulted by the people around them prevents men from speaking out against the injustices faced by them.

But with growing technology and education, and global access to information, people are coming out of their shells and coming to an understanding that talking about their experiences is not only going to uncover the tragedy, but is also going to set them free emotionally, physically and mentally. For example, many movements such as the #MeeToo and #Timesup movement, which originally started as a way to encourage women to come out and share their experiences of domestic and sexual violence, have also encouraged men to face their perpetrators.

Although, these movements have led to an 18% increase in filing reports of sexual violence against men, nonetheless, men still face public ridicule while sharing their encounters of domestic or sexual violence and are often brushed aside or they are considered weak and told to man up.

Technology has resulted in an increase in awareness amongst people on such issues, nevertheless, there is a negative impact by it on the cases of sexual harassment. With the development of technology and internet, sexual harassment against all the genders has drastically increased. According to PEW statistics 2014, 25% of women and 13% of men between the ages of 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment at online platforms.

Society needs to let go of the fact that rape is a men's issue or sexual violence has developed due to the patriarchal roots of the country in the view of the fact that saying this, demoralises male victims.

Sexual Harassment of Men in the Workplace

When we hear the term sexual harassment, our minds directly assume that the victim is a woman and the perpetrator is a man. One of the key places where sexual violence takes place is at the workplace. Over the years, many laws and legislations such as The Sexual Harassment Act for Workplace, or The Vishakha Guidelines are laid down to prevent sexual violence against women in the workplace. However, there has been no remedy laid down for men if they are sexually harassed in the workplace.

This does not mean that men are not subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. Laws have been implemented to protect women against the evil that is sexual harassment, but we keep forgetting that men get harassed at the workplace too.

Mostly sexual violence against men in the workplace is done by male colleagues or female bosses. Men may be asked to lift their shirts, or a certain quid pro quo may exist similar to the one that women in the workplace face. The only difference is, women have remedies against these harassments, while men have to silently suffer.

It is time to bring equality and eradicate these gender-biased laws with the implementation of gender-neutral laws. Equal importance should be given to the protection of men's right at the workplace as female's rights and men should be engulfed in the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act 2012 as soon as possible.

Many people are not aware of Reynhard Sinaga or 'Britain's most prolific rapist'. Earlier this year, he was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

The interesting thing about this case is, Reynhard raped men, particularly in Manchester, England. The Indonesian student would wait outside nightclubs and bars for intoxicated men and then lured them back to his apartment often with the offer of calling a taxi or going somewhere for a drink. He would then drug his victims before assaulting them while they were unconscious.

Police say they have evidence that Sinaga targeted at least 190 victims. As per the reports, Sinaga has a count of 159 sexual offences under his name on 48 men and still, 70 victims remain unidentified.

A case of sodomy, which is the only act under Section 377 which protects men from male-on-male rape, took place in Muzaffarnagar, A 10-year-old boy was sodomized by a youth in his Muzaffarnagar district. According to the complaint lodged, the accused took the minor to a secluded place and sexually assaulted him. The boy managed to get home and expressed this experience to his parents.

The accused is absconding, while the minor victim is undergoing treatments at the hospital.

No efforts have been made by the police to bring justice to the boy who was sodomized, and the accused is still walking free.

During their lives, 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape; 75% occurred before the men were 18, and 48% before age 12 (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000).
By age 18, 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted; by age 18, 1 in 6 boys will be assaulted (Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis & Smith, 1990)

As per reports by The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • Nearly 1 in 38 males have experienced completed or attempted rape during his lifetime
  • About 1 in 4 male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old
  • About 1 in 4 male rape victims reported that it occurred before age 10

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States conducted a study in 2010-2012 and found that 1 in 17 men reported being forced to penetrate at some point in their life. Among male victims who were raped by being forced to penetrated, 13.5 percent reported that the perpetrators were female.

Even when it comes to suicide, the rate of men committing suicide is greater than the rate of women committing suicide. And the fact of the matter is that Indian married men are twice as likely to commit suicide.

Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%), and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) have been raped at some point in their lives, including attempted forced penetration, complete forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated penetration. However, it should not be neglected that the corresponding figure for women is 1 in 5 which amounts to almost 20% and while the figure for women is higher, the figure for men is by no means negligible.

In a survey conducted by the Indian Government in 2007, children who reported experiencing severe sexual abuse, including rape or sodomy, 57.3% were boys and 42.7% were girls.
More recently, the Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society found that approximately 18% of Indian adult men surveyed reported being coerced or forced to engage in conjugal relations. Of those, 16% claimed a female perpetrator and 2% claimed a male perpetrator.

Surveys conducted by Save Family Foundation and My Nation Foundation, between April 2005 and April 2015 surveyed almost 1,00,000 men during that one year over the internet. From which they found out that about 98.2% of men had faced serious domestic violence from their wives and in-laws. Some of the violence men face are physical, verbal, economical, sexual, mental, emotional, and financial abuse are the violence that men face.
  1. 34.3% of men were affected by economic violence
  2. 28.6% of men were affected by physical violence
  3. 27.5% of men were affected by emotional violence
  4. 20.4% of men were affected by sexual violence
  5. The lowest violence that all the men surveyed faced was verbal abuse

Laws related to Sexual Violence in India

  1. Section 375 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860

    A man is said to commit rape who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:
    1. Against her will.
    2. Without her consent.
    3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt
    4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
    5. With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
    6. With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

      This section starts with the words, 'a man is said to commit rape' hence making it clear that rape is not a gender-neutral crime and only a woman can be a victim of it and a man can be a perpetrator.
  2. Section 354(A) of The Indian Penal Code, 1860

    A man committing any of the following acts shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment:
    1. physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures
    2. a demand or request for sexual favours
    3. showing pornography against the will of a woman
    4. making sexually coloured remarks

      This section yet again starts with 'a man is guilty of committing the offence of sexual harassment' and thus even this section is not gender-neutral since it fails to take into consideration the sexual harassment of males.
  3. Section 354(B) of The Indian Penal Code, 1860

    Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

    This section starts with 'a man is said to commit an assault or uses criminal force' thus even this section is not gender-neutral since it takes into consideration the assault or applying of criminal force on a female by a male on committing certain activities.
  4. Section 354(C) of The Indian Penal Code, 1860

    Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

    This section starts with a man is said to commit voyeurism thus even this section is not gender-neutral since it takes into consideration the voyeurism on a female by a male on committing certain activities.
  5. Section 354(D) of The Indian Penal Code, 1860

    A man is said to commit stalking if he-
    1. follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman
    2. monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication
      This section starts with a man is said to commit stalking thus even this section is not gender-neutral since it does not take into consideration the stalking of a male by a female on committing certain activities.
All the sections of The Indian Penal Code discussed above are not gender-neutral and only a woman can seek under these sections.

Health Consequences related to Sexual Violence Against Men
Assuming that males are undergoing violence altogether and females are also predators, it's important to know and emphasize the consequences of such acts on individual health and behaviour. It may have different manifestations in individuals' health such as physical, psychological, social, and economic. If inadequate attention is given, it may lead to prolonged habits of alcoholism, stress, frustration, suicide, and many more.

Men reported sustaining physical injuries (Hines and Douglas, 2010; Mills et al, 2006), but did not report compromised physical health (Reid et al, 2008; Coker et al, 2008). However, men who sustained physical and psychological IPV were more likely to report heavy alcohol use, and therapeutic and recreational drug use (Coker et al, 2008; Afifi et al, 2009) suggesting that indirectly the physical health of male victims is harmed.

Research on sexual violence against men is being done extensively across the world, and several countries have made provisions in the law. It is time that our Indian Courts also start taking sexual violence against men seriously and introduce legislations to protect men from these crimes.

People raise their voices when injustice is done with women, but why don't they do the same when a man is the victim? Everyone should be treated equally in the eyes of the law and there should be no biasness in the name of gender equality.

According to Justice Krishna Iyer, A murderer kills the body, but a rapist kills the soul. Men in India are raped every day, it is time the citizens acknowledge this fact and support the male victims of sexual violence when they report the cases and both men and women perpetrators of sexual violence should be punished equally under law for this brutal crime.

The following changes should be made as soon as possible:
  1. Gender-neutral laws should be implemented with the eradication of gender-biased laws
  2. Men should be added in the Sexual Harassment in the Workplace 2012.
  3. Awareness should be spread regarding sexual violence against men in the form of campaigns, reports, articles etc.
  4. Just like there is a separate court for women, Mahila Adaalat, a separate court should be made for men too.
  5. Separate commissions should be made which deals with research against crimes against men specifically and the same must be done for women too.
  6. Male and female perpetrators of sexual violence should be punished equally without any discrimination.
  • Drijber, B. Reijnders, U. Ceelen, M. (2013) Male victims of domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence. 28: 173-178 & Cho, H. Wilke, D. (2010) Gender differences in the nature of the intimate partner violence and effects of perpetrator arrest on revictimization. Journal of Family Violence 25: 393-400
  • Mele, M. Roberts, J. Wolfer, L. (2011) Men who seek protection orders against female intimate partners. Partner Abuse. Vol 2, No 1:61-75 & Nayback-Beebe, Yoder, L (2012) The lived experiences of a male survivor of intimate partner violence: a qualitative case study. MedSurg Nursing.21:2 (March/April 2012) p89- 95
  • Hines, D. Douglas, E. (2010) Intimate terrorism by women towards men: does it exist? Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research. Vol 2, No 3: 36-56
  • Maeve Duggan. PEW Research Centre. 2014. Online Harassment.
  • Tjaden, P. and Thoeness, N. (2000). Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women: finding from the National Violence Against Women Survey
  • Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis I.A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14, 19-28
  • Coker, A. Davis, K. Arias, I. Desai, S. Sanderson, M. Brandt, H. Smith, P. (2008) Physical and mental health effects of intimate partner violence for men and women. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 24(4): 260-268

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