“Men cannot be raped. They are always the accused, not the victim.”
This is not at all a rule but is definitely a fictitious presumption which our society has made. Even if a man reports about any case indulging Rape or any kind of sexual harassment committed by a woman upon him, the chances are scarce that the female will be held liable for the offense. The mere reason behind this is our disputed statute, which does not cover a woman responsible for committing any kind of sexual Assault against any man under its ambit.
The National Sexual Violence Research Centre reports that 1 in 71 men are raped during their lifetime. And these numbers jump to an alarming height when considering a college education, as 1 in 16 men on campus will be sexually victimized. Sexual orientation can also significantly increase this risk as bi-sexual and gay men are at a 50 % higher risk than heterosexual men to be victims of sexual violence other than Rape. So while the statistics on male rape are evident, male victims often experience even more skepticism and indifference than female victims.
Can Men Be Raped?
Indian Penal Code was stringent and precise when it came to its criminal provisions against any such sexual offenses. It explicitly made men liable for these offenses and gave the tag of the victim to the females. But after the case of Tukaram v. Union of India[1979 SCR(1)810] and Nirbhaya case, major amendments were brought in the form of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1983 and 2013, respectively.
Now, unlike before, only the penetration of the penis does not amount to Rape, but inserting any alien object in the private parts or even the mouth can lead to the offense of Rape. So, now the offense is no more a gender-biased as a woman can also commit these acts upon a man.
However, there was high pressure from certain vested groups due to which the gender specificity was retained even in the Criminal Amendment Act, 2013. The well known and prominent Justice Verma Committee Report proposed to replace the offense of Rape with sexual Assault.
In the latest Criminal Amendment of 2018, we can openly see the discrimination between males and females as it promotes the harsher punishment for a male culprit than a female culprit for any kind of sexual Assault upon their opposite gender. Is it fair?
Men usually feel the intense pressure of being a ‘man’ and not a ‘victim’ and not to acknowledge their pain and grief. And in this entire process, they fail to ask two essential questions to themselves which are ‘who am I’? And ‘who do I want to become’?
We should work harder to understand how societal norms like conventional notions of masculinity can prevent survivors from seeking help. Once we have understood these issues, let us work together to challenge them as a dominant way of thinking that we can realize the society that does not impose pressure on its most vulnerable, but instead build them up.