Friday, 15 November 2019

Making Rape Law Gender Neutral

Updated: February 18, 2012 11:40 am

Let me at the outset begin by stating that it is a landmark move by the Centre to have initiated serious steps to make rape law gender neutral. Till some time back, no one could have imagined this happening but now it is going to become a landmark reality. One cannot but endorse it in unequivocal terms as for the first time it has placed men on an equal footing with women. For now, once the proposed law is enacted, even men will be entitled to take legal recourse if sexual assault is committed against them. This is truly historic from all angles.

It is very strongly felt that this should have happened a long time back but better to be late than never. The Centre has rightly proposed that the offence of rape should be made “gender neutral” by amending the law suitably so that sexual assault on men can also be proceeded against under the same statue and the accused be punished strictly and swiftly. If this is actually implemented, it would be truly historic for not only those men who commit sexual assault on men who are weaker than them or take help of few other men to do so against his will but also those women who sexually assault men either alone or in groups.

I personally know about some of such cases where women in a group have tried to sexually assault men. One of them is my close relative who said that some girls of his class after calling him in some hotel tried to sexually assault him but somehow he managed to push them aside and ran away and stopped only after reaching a safe distance from them. I asked him some years later when he told me about the entire incident that why he had not reported the entire matter to the police, he said that it was of no relevance as the police would further make fun of him as happened actually with one of his friends. I was just gobsmacked to hear all this as I could never even dream of women or girls sexually assaulting men or boys. What is even more worse is that people don’t believe what you say as they don’t accept that women also can sexually assault men and psychologically give him the worst jolt of his life with which he has to spend the rest of his life all alone. But now this has become a harsh reality and therefore the current move by the government is really worth endorsing.

Fort the benefit of readers, it would be essential to also mention here that the change in the rape law is being drafted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development as part of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011. Interestingly enough, this proposed bill will replace the word “rape” with sexual assault and further also proposes suitable amendments to make the law gender neutral. One is sure that those men who face sexual assault from either many men or women can now breathe a sigh of relief. They too can now duly take proper legal recourse and make sure that the accused don’t escape either lightly or no punishment at all as all this only serves to further demoralise the victim and sends a completely wrong message down the line to one and all.

There is not one bona fide reason as to why this proposal to broaden the definition of rape by making it totally gender neutral should not be welcomed with both hands. It is a laudable and very historic step which will benefit all those men or boys who in spite of facing sexual assault of the worst kind are compelled to suffer everything in silence. It will serve as a bridge to fill the long felt gap in our statue books which was devoid of any remedy and all this in spite of so many cases of sexual assaults especially on young adolescent boys or even minor boys who were left with no option but to suffer everything in silence. About them there was no one to raise their voice in support of rendering justice to them by punishing those guilty which only left them more vulnerable as sitting ducks whom anyone could strike at their sweet will and yet escape without facing any punishment of any kind. One only hopes like many other pending bills hanging fire, it will not be permanently held in abeyance and will be implemented at the earliest without any further delay so that the aggrieved boys or men too are able to take a legal recourse and avail of such rape law legislations which being gender neutral will benefit men and women or boys and girls equally and not just girls or women alone as most unfortunately, we have been witnessing for ages. It is the crying need of the hour and brooks no delay.

By Sanjeev Sirohi

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