Should rape be a gender-neutral crime that includes men and transgender people?
Rape is India's fourth most prominent crime and a serious problem across the globe. Rape primarily a crime that is supposed to be perpetrated by a man against women, but did we ever think vice versa?
Gender neutrality in rape refers to the status that Indian rape law should recognize all genders which include males, females, and transgenders. etc can be perpetrators as well as the victims of the rape.
Predominantly, rape is regarded as a crime committed by men only against women, but it has been seen over time that other genders such as men, homosexuals, and the transgender community are also affected by this crime equally. In fact, regardless of age, gender, sexual attitude, rape can happen to anybody. Although there are a large number of such cases, most of them go unreported because individuals fear that reporting such cases will raise a question about their potency.
Rape done with people other than women mostly goes undeclared, so people have low knowledge about it, but it takes an hour for people to know about such crimes, and to get rid of such a heinous crime, proper law and order should be preserved. We need to acknowledge that the victim and perpetrator of rape can be of any sex and can take place anywhere, such as school, office, prisons, workplaces, coaching, etc. This problem and its seriousness can be understood only after leaving stereotyped thoughts about sexual offenses that can be done only against women.
The male rape cases were studied intensively only after the 1980s and mainly focused only on child sexual assaults. Even in the 21st century, reporting sexual assault is difficult for a male rape victim because we live in a society where men are considered to have the ability to protect themselves and others. They are considered to have strong power, so most individuals are afraid that reporting their sexual assault will raise a question about their strength or, if raped by a male, they will be considered homosexual. Some can come forward and share their experiences, but there are still many men who, because of the fear of society, never report their rape. In terms of a sense of shame, humiliation, and self-blame, personal stories of male rape mirror female rape, but males are even less likely to report an assault than females.
A study conducted by the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 17 men reported being forced to penetrate at some point in their lives and about 86.5 percent of these rape victims reported that the perpetrators were male.
A patriarchal society like India hates to admit that men can be raped too instead deny to agree. During his lifetime, nearly 1 in every 38 men experienced an attempted or completed rape.
INDIAN LAWS ON RAPE
Sec 375  of IPC mentions rape as “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped or is of unsound mental health and in any case, if she is under 18 years of age”.
An analysis of the above mentioned is:
- A rape offender is always a man
- A rape victim is always a woman
Therefore, the whole definition takes the rape of only women into account and there is no provision for male or third gender rape. It shows that if a male rapes another male or female rape a male, there's no particular law in India. All other laws and sections are meant for females only. This inequality in the treatment of male rape as a result of female rape affects the equality of our constitution. While the meaning of rape is only limited to penetration of the penis or any object in the vagina, the male rape cases are increasing intensively, however, due to the law no action is being taken. One such incident took place in 2018 where 4 men in Ghaziabad raped a 20-year-old boy, and an object was inserted into his rectum, but no case was registered as it does not abide by the law.
Although rape is gender centric crime that affects females of the society most of the time, there is no denial in the fact that transgenders also face a lot of sexual harassment. There is no such law that considers transgenders. As the above-mentioned analysis suggests that the rapist can only be a man and a victim will always be a woman, hence, this has given rise to rapes against the “third gender”. While the supreme court granted the recognition of “third gender” and as “persons” for transgender by making amendments in Article 14 under NALSA judgment still discrimination with the community is seen everywhere. There are only a handful of colleges that permit them to study and also they have very few professional opportunities. In 2016, the University of California at Berkeley's conducted a study along with Civilian Welfare Foundation, an NGO based in Kolkata, India. It involved 300 doctors who were mapped on their prejudice against the transgender community and its effect on communication and treatment towards the trans community. The study revealed the ineradicable transphobia in doctors and the trans community participants involved in the study stated that when they went to a doctor after getting gang-raped the doc said “how can you get rape” which explains the unemphatic and absence of understanding about sexual violence against the community.
Consequently, there is a dire need to amend the rape laws of our country which should not be gender-specific and should consider all the genders as victims and preparators. The Patricentric society effeminate males who are raped and as a result, it is less reported. While the POSCO act remains gender-neutral there are still to be amendments made in section 375 of IPC.