After Shantakulam Case, Appeal For Gender-Neutral Rape Laws

Seeking amendments to Section 375 of the IPC, the open letter sought gender-neutral rape laws in India.

Published07 Jul 2020, 10:46 AM IST
Gender
2 min read

In an open letter on Saturday, 4 July, members of a citizen’s group called ‘No Rape India’, wrote to the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to make rape and sexual harm gender-neutral offences, by including men and trangenders within the ambit.

The letter, signed by citizen activist Ravina Raj Kohli and former Uttar Pradesh DGP Vikram Singh, said that other cases “be treated with no less rigour and conviction than those who perpetrate such harm on women.” Referring to the Shantakulam incident in Tamil Nadu, where two men were victims of alleged police brutality, the activists said that sexual assault was undermined and not classified as rape, simply because they were identified as “men” by their anatomy.

“Sadly, it took the death of these two men for the law to address what happened to them with the seriousness necessary, by invoking charges of murder. If not for the tragedy of their deaths, the law’s best response to the brutality that they endured and the unacceptable injustice they suffered would have been to slap the accused policemen with less serious charges of inflicting grievous hurt or the more vague and controversial charge of “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” under Section 377 of the IPC.”
Open Letter By No Rape India Activists

The letter added that what happened in Shantakulam was “no less” than what happened in the Nirbhaya rape case.

‘Our Rape Law Validates Patriarchal Stereotype’

Seeking amendments to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the letter said that it must reflect the latest understanding of sexual harm and should effectively aim to redress all victims of rape – irrespective of whether they are men, women and transgenders.

“By focussing less on the act of rape and more on the gender of the perpetrator and the victim, the law validates the patriarchal stereotype of men being custodians and agents of power, immune to harm, which in itself, remains a precipitating factor in the culture of rape prevalent in this country and globally.”
Open Letter By No Rape India Activists

The amendment will not only address the needs of the victims and surviors of rape, but also demonstrate that the Indian Parliament is “alive and sensitive to the clinical understanding of sexual violence,” the letter added.

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