Gender Neutrality: Evolution and Present Scenario in India and the World!

Since the inception of civilized society Rape has been considered as a most heinous crime against women. This fact is also reflected in our codified laws and the constant endeavor by our lawmakers and civil society to make the law pertaining to rape as stringent as possible. However, an aspect that has been largely ignored by our law makers and the society in general is the fact that the crime of rape can be committed upon other genders as well .

Our society till now seems to be living under the impression that men are always in a position of power and therefore cannot be a ' victim' of such a crime. Even the idea that a man can be forced upon seems ludicrous to many and is still scoffed upon. Therefore, male victims of rape or sexual assault instead of being given the relevant assistance and legal aid are usually ridiculed. The Transgender community for fear of persecution do not report such crimes. Unfortunately, law is also a reflection of the society and treats male and transgender victims of rape equally nonchalantly and therefore, at present there are no laws in India to protect their rights.

The society as well as law needs to wake upto the reality that all forms of abuse be it physical and verbal, sexual harassment and even rape are committed on all genders.

What is Rape?

Before delving into the issue any further we must understand the concept of rape. The word rape is derived from the Latin term rapio, which means ' to seize' . Thus the literal meaning of the word rape is a forcible seizure. Rape has also been defined as, ' as the ravishment of a woman without her consent, by force, fear, or fraud' or ' the carnal knowledge of a woman by force against her will.' In other words, rape is violation with violence of the private person of a woman(Black' s law dictionary).

The definition of rape as it stands today under Sec 375 Indian Penal Code 1860 is asunder :

' Section 375. Rape-A man is said to commit "rape" if he

(a) penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or

(b) inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or

(c) manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or

(d) applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person, under the circumstances falling under any of the following seven descriptions: --

First. --Against her will.

Secondly. --Without her consent.

Thirdly. --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.

Fourthly. --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.

Fifthly. --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. Sixthly. --With or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of age. Seventhly. --When she is unable to communicate consent.

Explanation I.--For the purposes of this section, "vagina" shall also include labia majora.

Explanation 2. -- Consent means an unequivocal voluntary agreement when the woman by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication, communicates willingness to participate in the specific sexual act: Provided that a woman who does not physically resist to the act of penetration shall not by the reason only of that fact, be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.

Exception I.--A medical procedure or intervention shall not constitute rape. Exception 2. --Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.'

Thus, as far as these definitions go the ' crime' of Rape can only be committed upon a female by a Male. The law does not recognize the victim to be an adult male or transgender..

Brief history of Rape laws in India:

The codification of Indian laws began with the enactment of the Charter Act, 1833 by the British Parliament which led to the establishment of the first Law Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Macaulay. ' Rape' as a clearly defined offence was first introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860. Prior to this, there were often diverse and conflicting laws prevailing across India.

For over a century after 1860, the criminal law relating to rape and sexual assault cases remained unchanged until the Mathura Rape case in the year 1972 whose judgment resulted into a huge public outcry and widespread protests for excluding ' consent' in rape cases. This ultimately led to the Criminal Law Amendment, in the year 1983. A new Section 114A in the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 was inserted which presumed that there is absence of consent in certain prosecutions of rape if the victim says so. This applied to custodial rape cases. In addition to this the Indian Penal Code underwent some changes and, Section 228A was added which made it punishable to disclose the identity of the victim of certain offences including rape,further, Section 376(A), Section 376(B), Section 376(C), Section 376(D) were also added which made custodial rape punishable under law.

However, during this period the definition of rape as per section 375 was as under :

' 375. Rape.- 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:-

(First) - Against her will.

(Secondly) - Without her consent.

(Thirdly) - 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.

(Fourthly) - 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.

(Fifthly) - 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.

(Sixthly)- With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age. Explanation.- Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.

(Exception) - Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.]

The laws related to rape thereafter, were Amended twice.Once, in the year 2013 vide Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which came into effect from 03.04.2013andintroduced the existing present definition of rape. A second time vide The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 dated 11th August, 2018 which further made amendments to the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. However, despite all these changes the definition of rape till date has remained gender as an offense committed by a man against a female .

What is Gender neutrality?

Before going into the aspect of whether our rape laws are gender neutral or not we should also have a look at exactly what is 'Gender Neutrality'. Gender Neutrality has been defined as an adjective that is suitable for, or applicable to, every individual irrespective of gender. It describes the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people' s sex or gender, and emphasizes on equal treatment of individuals legally with no discrimination.

The entire grievance of various section of society in India such as men, LGBTQ community till date is that the law on rape are not gender-neutral and therefore clearly discriminatory in nature which go completely against the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Is there a Need for Gender Neutral rape laws for Men in India?

The answer to the question as to whether there is a need for such laws in India is a resounding yes! In fact, the need for such laws has always been there because in India there is a huge population of Males who are vulnerable to rape or may land up becoming a victim of sexual assault. One just needs to scratch the surface and numerous harrowing instances of gay men, straight men, transgender being victims of rape would emerge all across India. Only because of fear of retribution and public humiliation such victims and their families failed to approach the law.

To name a few instances Gay men are duped and raped under the guise of a dates. Usually victims in these cases are way too scared of public ridicule to even report such crimes.

Another instance which is truly scary came to surface by way of a 2015 study by the National Human Rights Commission, which found that sexual abuse and same-sex rapes by fellow prisoners in India' s prisons was rampant. This also triggered most of the jail suicides. The study also revealed that many inmates had been raped or coerced for sexual favours.

These examples just go on to show that any male can become a victim of sexual assault or rape. Sadly, till recently even the consensual act of sexual conduct between adults of the same sex was a crime in India, this coupled with the fact that there is no strong and specific law for such victims till date which may act as a deterrent to the perpetrators, one cannot expect the victims to even raise their voice.

In absence of any law or a specific section any complaint of sexual abuse by a man was taken up under section 37 or as act of sodomy.Sodomy itself is nowhere defined in Indian Laws.

Sec 377 IPC which defines Unnatural Offences:

' Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.'

The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the judgment of Anil Kumar Mahsi v. Union of India 1994 SCC (5) 704 quoted the definition of sodomy as given in the Oxford dictionary which is :

' A carnal copulation by human beings with each other against nature, or with a beast and Oxford English Dictionary defines it as - An unnatural form of sexual intercourse, especially that of one male with another.'

However, the Hon' ble Supreme Court was always of the view that meaning of statutes should be strictly construed and was pleased to observe in the matter of Sakshi v. Union of India AIR 2004 SC 3566 that it is incorrect to substitute a particular statue for some other purpose especially in situations where the statue is for an offence imposing a penalty. Thus, even the Apex Court did not favour the mechanical fashion in which Sec 377 was used to forcibly cover sodomy for sexual assaults on males.

The law on sodomy was struck down first by the Hon' ble High Court of Delhi in the judgment of Naz Foundation v Government Of Nct Of Delhi 160(2009)DLT277 which for the first time deemed consensual sex between homosexuals as not an offence.Unfortunately, this judgment was overruled by the Hon' ble Supreme Court in the year 2013 in the matter of Suresh Kumar Koushal and Ors.Vs.NAZ Foundation and Ors. (2014)1SCC1.

However in Navtej Singh Johar and Ors. vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors.(2018)10 SCC 1the Hon' ble Supreme Court of Indiadecriminalizing consensual same sex conduct, striking down sodomy and deeming the relevant portion of Section 377 as unconstitutional which came as a welcome respite and instilled a sense of confidence in effected persons. Even though this judgment does not deal with the issue of creating a gender neutral definition of rape yet is a step in the right direction atleast recognizing that homosexuality is not a crime.

If one has been given freedom under law to practice sexual preference then appropriate protection to enjoy that freedom and in case of any mishap should also be given by law. The decriminalization of Article 377 was indeed a watershed moment in the Indian Society and should be used even further to protect rights of the sections of the society who are presently not covered in the definition of rape under Sec 375 IPC.Examples of rape committed upon males are countless and unfortunately will keep on happening unless stringent and specific laws are in place.

Though, Sec 377 even now remains in force it is only qua sex with minors, non-consensual sexual acts and bestialityand there is still a void in law specifically to cover rape committed upon males.

Rape laws in India and the Transgender community :

The term Transgender is generally described as an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to their biological sex. TG may also takes in persons who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth, which include Hijras/Eunuchs and refer to themselves as "third gender" and they do not identify as either male or female. The term "transgender", in contemporary usage, has become an umbrella term that is used to describe a wide range of identities and experiences, including but not limited to pre-operative, post-operative and non-operative transsexual people, who strongly identify with the gender opposite to their biological sex; male and female.

Transgender being one of the most misunderstood sections of society have always found themselves in a very vulnerable position. They have always faced ridicule and downright contempt even from institutions which are supposed to protect them such as the police. There are numerous cases of transgender survivors of rape or sexual assault in India. They have also been well documented, one of them being the 'Bangalore incident, 2004' bringing out instances of custodial torture of LGBT persons. The victim of the torture was a hijra (eunuch) from Bangalore, who was at a public place dressed in female clothing. The person was subjected to gang rape, forced to have oral and anal sex by a group of hooligans. He was later taken to police station where he was stripped naked, handcuffed to the window, grossly abused and tortured merely because of his sexual identity. In a Madras High Court judgment reported as Jayalakshmi v. The State of Tamil Nadu (2007)4MLJ849 , an eunuch had committed suicide due to the harassment and torture at the hands of the police officers after he had been picked up on the allegation of involvement in a case of theft. There was evidence indicating that during police custody he was subjected to torture by a wooden stick being inserted into his anus and some police personnel forcing him to have oral sex. The person in question immolated himself inside the police station on 12.6.2006 and later succumbed to burn injuries on 29.6.2006.

In this scenario the judgment passed by the Hon' ble Supreme Court in the matter of National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. [MANU/SC/0309/2014]is nothing short of a new lease of life for the transgender community wherein theyhave been directed to be treated as "third gender" for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under the Constitution. The judgment is a much needed and welcome respite, and even though a long distance has to be covered for the Transgender community in every regard including laws qua sexual assault and rape.

Though The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 has been recently been introduced on 05.12.2019 to provide for protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto, its applicability is still in a very nascent stage.

Sec 2 (k) of the Act defines a "transgender person" as ' a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or trans-woman (whether or not such person has undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with intersex variations, genderqueer and person having such socio-cultural identities as kinner, hijra, aravaniand jogta.'

Sec 4. States that: (1) A transgender person shall have a right to be recognised as such, in accordance with the provisions of this Act. (2) A person recognised as transgender under sub-section (1) shall have a right to self-perceived gender identity.

Sec18(d) provides that' whoever: harms or injures or endangers the life, safety, health or well-being, whether mental or physical, of a transgender person or tends to do acts including causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine. '

The difficulty with this Act is that it only deals with sexual abuse and that too in a very light manner by punishing the perpetrator with a maximum sentence of two years. This clearly reflects the cavalier attitude of our law makers towards offences committed towards Transgender.

All other laws in India including Sec 375 IPC are drafted in binary nature that only recognizes ' male' and ' female' and fails to even consider the Transgender community. Besides rape, laws pertaining to sexual harassment (Section 354 A), assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe (Section 354-B), voyeurism (354 C), stalking (354 D) all operate in the male-female binary. This clearly violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India as there is discrimination against Transgender on the basis of their gender identity.

It is also relevant to note that till date Sec 377 IPC was applied for sexual crimes against Transgender, however, this at best can be stated as a stop gap arrangement and in no manner can be termed as sufficient or effective. The application of Sec 377 for sexual assaults on transgender clearly creates a distinction in treatment of assaults committed by the same sex and assault committed upon the opposite sex. Further distinction can be seen from the different punishment provided for Sec 375 and Sec 377. While the crime of rape carries with it severe punishment under Sec 376 and even death under Sec 376A IPC, the punishment under Sec 377 is much less severe with no minimum sentence prescribed.

It is also necessary for the law as well as the society to recognize that even though rape or sexual assault is a crime of power it has no relation with the gender of the parties involved and they can be either male, female or transgender. Therefore, it is high time that necessary amendments should be made in rape laws in the country to keep up with the times and changing notions of the society so that all are given equal protection of law.

International laws on rape and sexual assault

Whenever there is a lack of precedent in India in law one must look towards other progressive societies with a decent human rights track record and look their handling of a legal scenario. An overview of a Study would show that out of the 96 countries which were studied, 63 were found to have rape or sexual assault laws written in gender-neutral language, 27 had rape laws that were completely gender-specific (i.e., the perpetrator was defined as male and the victim as female) and 6 had partly gender-neutral laws (the perpetrator was defined as male and the victims could be male or female). Rape laws of a few countries are as follows:

USA : The FBI's Uniform Crime Report in 2012 redefined rape as: "The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." The prior definition had not changed since 1927 and gained the attention of sexual assault awareness groups because it had alienated the victims who did not fit the definition - "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will". The former definition of "forcible rape" focused on vaginal penetration, but the newer definition includes forcible anal or oral penetration. The old definition, "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will", did not include forcible oral or anal penetration, the rape of women with other objects, or the rape of a man.

This new definition encourages male rape victims to seek the help they need and also includes sexual assaults that previously were not covered by the definition of rape. The basis for changing this definition lies in the statistics provided by governmental institutions such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the CDC. A study done by the CDC found that 1 in 71 men had been raped or had been the target of attempted rape. This study included oral and anal penetration in its definition but did not include men in prison or men made to penetrate. Gender-neutral laws have combated the perception that rape rarely occurs to men, and other laws have eliminated the term rape altogether.

United Kingdom :Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence for any male to penetrate with his penis the vagina, anus or mouth of a female or male without their consent. Male rape became recognised in law in 1994 but the 2003 legislation made victims of rape gender neutral. This is applicable only on males perpetrators. Whereas, if a female has committed the offence, the same can only be charged under ' Assault by penetration' which means ' if any male or female penetrates the vagina or anus of another person without their consent.' The offence is committed where the penetration is by a part of the body (for example, a finger) or anything else (for example, an object) for sexual intent. The females can also be charged with ' Sexual assault' which means -
Where any male or female intentionally touches another person sexually without his or her consent.

Bhutan : The land of happiness and the neighbor of India, Bhutan also has gender neutral rape laws. The Section 177 of the Bhutan Penal Code defines Rape as:

'Rape S. 177. A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape, if the defendant has sexual intercourse with another person:

(a) Without the person' s consent or with consent, when consent is obtained by putting the person or a third person in fear of death or of grievous hurt;

(b) Compels the other person to submit to sexual intercourse by force, or by threat of imminent death, bodily injury or serious bodily injury or the commission of a felony to that person or a third person;

(c) Substantially impairs the other persons ability to appraise or control the conduct by administering drugs, intoxicants, or other substances without consent for the purpose of preventing the person' s resistance to the sexual intercourse, or

(d) Renders the other person unconscious for the purpose of committing sexual intercourse' .

France: The French Penal Code also has a gender-neutral rape laws. The Article 222-23 of the France Penal Code states that :' ARTICLE 222-23 Any act of sexual penetration, whatever its nature, committed against another person by violence, constraint, threat or surprise, is rape. Rape is punished by fifteen years' criminal imprisonment.'

Canada: Canada has since the year 1983 changes its laws to make them gender neutral and replaced sexual assault instead of the term rape.

General view of the Law Commissions , Courts as well as Legislature on gender neutral laws in India related to rape

The view of Courts in India has generally been quite progressive and has shown the correct path to the Legislature.Case in point being the judgment of National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. [MANU/SC/0309/2014]which recognized Transgender Community as the third Gender of the society.Legal recognition and protection is the first step in instilling confidence in any section of the society.

However the observation to have a gender neutral law was first seen in the year 1996 by the Hon' bleHigh Court of Delhiin the matter of Smt.SudeshJhaku vs K.C.J. And Others [1996 (62) DLT 563] . The relevant observation is as under :-

"Men who are sexually assaulted shall have the same protection as female victims, and women who sexually assault men or other women should be liable for conviction as conventional rapists. Considering rape as a sexual assault rather than as a special crime against women might do much to place rape law in a healthier perspective and to reduce the mythical elements that have tended to make rape laws a means of reinforcing the status of women as sexual possessions" .It was further observed that the definition should be widened to include instances of sexual assault which may not satisfy the penile-vaginal penetration required under the existing law.

Thereafter, in the year 1997, a Delhi-based group filed a writ petition before the Hon' ble Supreme Court of Indiatitled as Sakshi v Union of India (1999) 6 SCC 591to draw theattention of the Court towards the existing Sections 375/376 Indian Penal Code and various other Sections and it was pointed out that the interpretation being placed by the Courts on these Sections cannot be said to be in tune with the current state of affairs existing in the society, particularly in the matter of sexual abuse of children. TheApex Court while disposing off the said writ petition gace specific directions to be considered by the Law Commission of India.

Subsequent to the directions passed by the Hon' ble Supreme court in the Sakshi case(Supra), the Law Commission of India in its 172ndReport dated 25.03.2000, recommended changes for widening the scope of the offence in Section 375 and to make it gender neutral. It also recommended removing Sec 377 IPC.

The report stated that:

' Suggestions for amendment to Indian Penal Code.- This part sets out the several amendments proposed by the petitioner. Suffice it to say that they seek to substitute the definition of `rape' with the definition of `sexual assault' and make it gender neutral. The object is to widen the scope of the offence. The expression `consent' is also sought to be defined. A new section, section 375A with the heading `Aggravated sexual assault' is sought to be created. This new offence seeks to synthesisethe offences now categorised under sub-section (2) of section 376 as well as sections 376B to 376D.'

Thereafter, since no concrete steps were taken by the Legislature to make necessary changes in rape laws another PIL was filed before the Hon' ble Supreme Court titled as Sakshi v. Union of India AIR 2004 SC 3566it was observed that that:

' The suggestions made by the petitioners [Sakshi] will advance the cause of justice and are in the larger interest of society. The cases of child abuse and rape are increasing at an alarming speed and appropriate legislation in this regard is, therefore, urgently required. We hope and trust that the Parliament will give serious attention to the points highlights by the petitioner and make appropriate legislation with all the promptness which it deserves.'

Then on 4th December 2012 in order to implement much needed changes in rape lawstheCriminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 [Bill No. 130 of 2012] was introduced in the Parliament seeking to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 with a view to amend the definition from a ' man' to a ' person' so as to make the definition gender-neutral. In the said Bill Section 375 was to be termed as :

' 375. A person is said to commit ' sexual assault' if that person- (a) penetrates, for a sexual purpose, the vagina or anus or urethra or mouth of another person with-

(i) any part of the body including the penis of such person; or

(ii) any object manipulated by such person, except where such penetration is carried out for proper hygienic or medical purposes;

(b) manipulates any part of the body of another person so as to cause penetration of the vagina or anus or urethra or mouth of such person by any part of the other person' s body;

(c) engages in ' cunnilingus' or ' fellatio' ,

under the circumstances falling under any of the following six descriptions:-

Firstly.- Against the other person' s will.

Secondly.- Without the other person' s consent.

Thirdly.- With the other person' s consent when such consent has been obtained by putting such other person or any person in whom such other person is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.

Fourthly.- When the person assaulted is a female, 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 to be lawfully married.

Fifthly.- With the consent of the other person when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by that person personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, the other person is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that action to which such other person gives consent.

Sixthly.- With or without the other person' s consent, when such other person is under eighteen years of age.

Explanation I.- Penetration to any extent is ' penetration' for the purposes of this section.

Explanation II.- For the purposes of this section, ' vagina' shall also include labia majora. Exception.- Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under sixteen years of age, is not sexual assault.'

The Justice J.S. Verma Committee which was formed on 23.12.2012 to give recommendations on amending laws, to provide for speedy justice and enhance punishment for criminals in sexual assault cases of extreme nature. The Committee submitted its report on 23rdJanuary, 2013 and made a number of recommendations. The said committee recommended to retain the offence of rape and make the offence gender neutral; however, only from the perspective of the victim which means that the victim of rape could be either male or a female however, the perpetrator could only be a male.

That even after the ordinance and the Verma Committee recommendation intended to make the rape laws gender neutral , the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which came into effect from 03.04.2013 to supplant the ordinance, reverted to the gender-specific definition of rape that is presently in effect.

However looking at the brighter side of things with laws in so far as minors are concerned is gender-neutral 

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

It is relevant to point out that there has atleast been some development in law in India with respect to crimes of sexual assault committed upon children. For this purpose The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, or POCSO came into force on 14 November 2012. The POCSO Act, 2012 is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.

Section 2(1)(d) of the Act defines ' child' as ' any person below the age of eighteen years' . Hence, the offences mentioned under the Act are Gender Neutral and are applicable on any child below the age of 18 years.

Sec 3 defines A person is said to commit "penetrative sexual assault" if--(a) he penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a child or makes the child to do so with him or any other person; or(b) he inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of the child or makes the child to do so with him or any other person; or(c) he manipulates any part of the body of the child so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of the child or makes the child to do so with him or any other person; or(d) he applies his mouth to the penis, vagina, anus, urethra of the child or makes the child to do so to such person or any other person.

Conclusion:

From the above it is clear that to bring about any significant changes in law the civil society needs to rake up this issue and also instill confidence in males, females and transgender equally that it is alright to raise their voice and seek justice. Victims should not feel that they shall be ridiculed if they report a crime. Social stigma attached in reporting rape or sexual assault should be reduced as much as possible through gender sensitization.

Further, lawmakers in India need to take some giant strides so that equal treatment is met out to all victims of rape dehors their gender or sexual preferences so that the constitutional embargo put upon them to provide equal treatment to all is also met in its entirety. This article is an appeal to all interested parties to uniformly come together to make progressive laws that protect all against the most heinous crime, Rape.

The Author of this article is Mr. Vaibhav Kalra, Managing Partner and Founder of Kalra & Co.

 

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