Gone are the days where Patriarchy used to be the sole and dominant factor in our social system, rise of feminist movements clearly show women advocating and being successful in obtaining equality. Then, why can’t men claim equality when it comes to Marital or rape laws in India. Notion of patriarchy is the primary reason why if a rape alleged by a Man, is simply sidelined with the mere thought that men are superior to female in our society. Though gender neutral laws are very far from reality but current scenario in India make us feel that it is high time, we identify female perpetrators and give justice to affected men.
India is a signatory of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 and The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, all of which upholds the inalienable right of every person to equality and human dignity. After the Delhi Gang Rape case, Justice Varma Committee was setup which came to a conclusion and stated “Since the possibility of sexual assault on men, as well as homosexual, transgender and transsexual rape, is a reality, the provisions have to be cognizant of the same” Neutrality with regards to perpetrators, in reality even women can be subjected to commit crimes is very comfortably ignored by Indian judiciary, executive and even by the society. Another, a Malimath Committee which was appointed to suggest reforms for Section 497, Indian Penal Code, 1860 through its report suggested to make section 497 gender neutral and even stated that marital infidelity must be taken seriously in the society, similar treatment to both the man and a woman should be taken into consideration.
We can point out to a plethora of laws in India that aren’t gender neutral and solely prescribe remedies for women. Ranging from Anti-dowry laws where a man’s statement is never considered, to Rape where it is presumed to be committed only on women, and men are never raped. While, gender-neutral laws are not a new gloom that India has never seen. Section 2(d) of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 defines “Children” as “any person” and not limited to being a Male or a Female specifically. Another classic example was a brief 58-day period post JS Varma Committee report when rape laws in India were gender neutral only before, The Criminal Law(Amendment) Ordinance 2013 repealed the provisions.
Statistical finding over the years show how men’s rights have been violated simply because no law supported them from unnecessary filings against them, resulting in unwarranted arrest and harassment. Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill was passed only in 2012, the provisions are restricted to women and their modesty. Is this because men don’t get harassed in Indian workplaces? Economic Times-Synovate conducted a survey in which 527 people were queried across seven cities – Bangalore, Chennai, , Kolkata, Mumbai Pune, Delhi, and Hyderabad – 19% said they have faced some kind of sexual harassment at office. In Bangalore, 51% of the respondents had been sexually harassed, while in Delhi and Hyderabad, 31% and 28% of those surveyed said they had been sexually harassed. Right, so no remedy for men and are they supposed to carry this trauma forever?
Another Report of Crime in India, 2012 Statistics by Ministry of Home Affairs on Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 found that a total of 197,762 people all across India were arrested in that particular year and, only 14.4% were convicted. Now, this brings us to the question of aggressive misuse and frivolous complaints being filed against men. In 2004, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has found that about 1.8% or an estimated 60 lakh women have perpetrated physical violence against husbands without any provocation. Justice Sadhana Jadhav of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court recently was in a dilemma and ordered release of a woman because she could not be convicted for the offence of Rape under Section 376. Moreover recently, the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) found that approximately 18% of Indian adult men surveyed reported being coerced or forced to have sex. Of those, 16% claimed a female perpetrator and 2% claimed a male perpetrator. If a female is the perpetrator, there is no mechanism for finding justice for a male in India. Does Indian law safeguard a situation when a male is forced to have sex and if he alleges it to be Rape? If you say NO, isn’t it violative of the basic intrinsic value of our Constitution enshrined under Article 14 which says equality before law and prevents any discrimination on the grounds of gender.
Yes we do accept, Article 15(3) of Constitution of India allows the state to make special provisions for women and children but does that mean the patriarchal mindset shall restrict the state from drafting laws for men?
Need of the hour:
Will there ever be a right time to make rape laws gender-neutral? – wondered Hon’ble Delhi High Court bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar back in July this year. As a society, we must collectively strive to ensure that rights of male survivors are not violated. This does not undermine crimes against women, it is just that we must mutually develop empathy for everyone in our society. We must accept that in modern days, men too are subjected to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and even penetrative acts through coercion.
If the law itself fails to deliver justice, where will he go? Its high time that this need is adequately addressed by removing the banner of gender and the cloth of justice be weaved only with equality.
 Justice J.S.Verma, Justice Leila Seth and Gopal Subramaniam, REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON AMENDMENTS TO CRIMINAL LAW 2013, 416.
 The Justice Malimath Committee Report, 2013
 Even men aren’t safe from sexual harassment at workplace: Survey,
 Report of Crime in India, 2012 Statistics by Ministry of Home Affairs, http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2012/Statistics2012.pdf
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Abhishek Iyer is a II year B.A. LL.B. student at Gujarat National Law University. He is interested in Media Laws, IPR & Litigation.