University of Hyderabad incident rekindles debate on gender-neutral laws
By V Nilesh | Express News Service | Published: 14th January 2018 03:30 AM |
HYDERABAD: The incident which occurred in UoH where a male student was allegedly forcefully sodomised by another male masters student, has rekindled the debate on making laws in India gender-neutral, in recognition that even males can be raped.
It may be mentioned here that just on Friday a PIL was filed in Supreme Court to make the laws pertaining to sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D and section 375 of the IPC dealing with outraging modesty of women, sexual harassment, assault, voyeurism, stalking and rape, gender-neutral.
In the UoH issue, the police booked a case under Section 377 of the IPC. Unlike the Section 375 of IPC which deals with rape of women, the Section 377 of IPC is an umbrella law which deals with “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.
This means that a person who is accused of bestiality and a person accused of forcefully sodomosing men, like it is being alleged in UoH case, fall in the same category.
As per NCRB-2016 data, 11 cases were registered under Sec 377 in TS, including three cases in Hyderabad. Of these, in four cases victims were minors. Across the country 1,996 cases were registered under Sec 377 with 2003 victims. However, there is no data which gives out number of cases where men are victims of forceful sodomy or sexual assault.
Adithya Ravie, an LGBTQ social worker says, “The absolute lack of recognition by law that a man can also be raped makes it difficult for victims of such crime to approach and file a complaint with the police. There is also a stigma attached with it and the attitude of police towards such issues makes it even more difficult.”
MA Shakeel, advocate at Hyderabad High Court says, “There is a need for making Section 375 of IPC dealing with rape to be made gender-neutral. Only this will help in seeking justice for men victims of rape.”