Government’s proposal to include sexual assault on men and boys on par with erstwhile term rape under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a welcome and long overdue move.
The proposal before the Cabinet seeks to change the definition of “rape” as a crime involving sexual assault of women and defined by forcible penetration. The move now is to expand the definition to include male victims of sexual assault as well by changing the relevant provisions of the IPC, Evidence Act and CrPc. If the proposal goes through, “rape” as a category of crime will cease to exist in the statute books, as the proposal is to replace it with “sexual assault”—a gender-neutral distinction.
What is perplexing is opposition by some feminists to criminalize sexual assault on men and boys.
Those opposed to the move, like Flavia Agnes, said the government had suddenly woken up after the assault on a girl in Guwahati. “I oppose the proposal to make rape laws gender neutral. There is physicality in the definition of rape, there is use of power and the victim has a stigma attached to her. If made gender-neutral, rape laws will not have the deterrence value and it will make it more complicated for judges in court,” Agnes said.
The complications are only in the mind of such feminists who vehemently protest against women’s human rights violation but consider it their God given duty to protest against laws to protect men on par with women!