Gender Neutral : Men can get raped too
Updated: Jan 11
By – Ayushi Verma
Before moving onto anything about the scenario of Gender Neutrality in India, let’s know what Gender Neutrality is. Gender Neutrality is the idea that language, policies, and other social institutions (gender roles or gender identity, social structures) should avoid differentiating roles according to people’s sex or gender. It emphasizes the equal treatment between men, women and people of any other gender.
Let’s talk about Rape and Sexual Assault laws in India. The definition of “Rape” in section 375 of the Indian Penal Code had only mentioned “non-consensual penile-vaginal penetration” and excluded the totality of men who have been the victims of rape and sexual assault. In simple language, it means that only a man can be convicted of committing rape and victim can only be a woman. Generally, the society only talks about the women only being the victim of rape and men only being the perpetrator. However, Sexual Assault is not only an act of satisfying lust and desire but also an act of showing superiority or dominance of one class, caste, community over the other and an act of humiliation and power. If this is so, then why the male gender is excluded from being a rape victim in India.
If a man alleges that a female raped him, he is not seen as a “real man” because of course the stereotypical patriarchal assumption of “ men are stronger than women and superior “ comes into play and this is the reason why male do not report that they have been raped by a female. They are scared to talk about it and embarrassed and when they talk about it, they are not believed because they’re men. How a man can possibly be abused? The society makes fun of it, their masculinity is doubted upon, they are being harassed by the society because he got himself got“raped by a female”. Sexual Assault of women is much more focused on rather than sexual assault of men or transgender persons. It is a topic which is rarely discussed and whenever it is addressed, it’s with a fun connotation. For example, we can see the character of “Badri” (played by VarunDhawan in Badrinath Ki Dulhania) being molested by a gang of men, it is portrayed as a funny scene where people are bound to laugh even the other characters of film. This shows the true scenario of the issue of sexual abuse men in India. It is considered to be funny as what kind of man gets sexually abused and questions of masculinity are raised. This makes difficult for a man from becoming vocal about their vulnerabilities to preserve any sense of masculinity that they have. Men have been taught that they should not show their vulnerability or any emotion that makes them seem weak. Society thinks that men are not vulnerable – only women are. Many cases of male rape go unreported because of the social stigma attached to it.
Male on male rape are more in number then female on male rape and it is because it is not possible for a woman to rape a man biologically but if we talk about current laws related to rape, they have been amended now i.e. rape is not limited to penile-vaginal penetration anymore in India. Rape also includes insertion of objects, oral and anal penetration as well which means that it is not physically impossible for women to rape men.
Article 14 states Right to Equality before law and Article 15 states the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex. Therefore, men should be entitled to the same rights as woman. Even though the number of men being thevictims of rape is less than female rape, they cannot be denied of the right to equality.
Gender Neutrality is not anti-women. It has been seen as against feminist principles. However, the recognition of male victimization is not in any way undermine feminist understanding of rape. In today’s scenario amending the legal definition of rape to recognize victims of all genders and provide legal recourse to them is essential to equality – indeed it is what feminism stands for.
The need for gender neutrality is of high requirement in the rape legislation as from the beginning women are only considered as the victim may be due to patriarchy prevalent in Indian society.