Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempts to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person’s sexuality. When we think of this term, we see primarily see women as the victims and men as the perpetrators. We never imagine sexual violence against men.
Sexual Violence Against Men
First of all, let’s get one thing cleared – Sexual Violence against men is real. It happens and we need to accept that it happens. And it is not something new. It has been happening since ancient times, just like crimes against women.
In fact, there are stories of women drugging a man and sleeping with him, to force him to marry her. Such incidents have been prevalent for a very long time, especially in India. And in modern times, the number of and types of incidents of sexual violence and rape against men have increased drastically.
But we don’t talk about it in India. In India, we believe that men cannot experience sexual abuse because they are men. And men love any and all sex they get. So, if a person is attempting to have sex with a man, the man will always be ready for it. And this is the sort of attitude that has led to a lot of men facing such abuse sometimes not even recognizing that it is abuse and that it shouldn’t be happening.
Ignorance of and Blindness towards the issue
The ignorance of this issue is so deep in India that according to Section 375 of The Indian Penal Code, rape is a crime that only sees men as the perpetrator and women as the victim and not vice-versa. It is believed that women cannot rape men. The Penile Penetration Condition is a requirement for a rape charge.
The Penile Penetration Condition is justified on the basis that:
- It is physically and biologically impossible for a woman to rape a man
- It is a more serious offence to forcefully penetrate someone than to force someone to penetrate you
- Rape is a gendered crime
This means that the justice system believes that sexual violence against men is impossible, which shows how blind the country is to this topic. Further, there are also no laws against adult gay rapes. The Indian Constitution considers men to be almost invulnerable against sexual violence. In essence, it glorifies the statement, “Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.” All of this just means that even if men want to come forward and report it, they just can’t do so.
At present, there are only two laws that realize males can also be sexually assaulted.
- First one is the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences” (POSCO) that address the sexual abuse committed against both male and female child.
- The second one is the UGC “Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act” that recognizes men are also subjected to lots of sexual harassment along with women at the workplace.
No matter what the constitution, or anyone else, the reality is that men are sexually vulnerable too. But because of the fact that the constitution has no provision for it, there is no nationwide statistics for sexual violence against men. No one studies it, nor acknowledges it. After a lot of digging, we found a study of 1500 men, of which 71% of men surveyed said they were abused, 84.9% said they had not told anyone about the abuse and the primary reasons for this were shame (55.6%), followed by confusion (50.9%), fear (43.5%) and guilt (28.7%). In another cross-sectional study of gender-based violence against men in Haryana, 52.4 per cent of men said they had experienced violence.
And all these numbers are probably a low estimate, as a lot of men do not yet understand that they might have been assaulted because of the mindset of society, while others might not have come forward about it, or been honest about it due to fear of shame.
There are many examples of sexual violence against men, for instance on the 16th of June 2018, a 20-year-old man had to endure the sexual assault by five men in Ghaziabad and a foreign object was inserted into his rectum. But because there is no provision for it in the constitution, he could do nothing. Only the scale and horror of the incident had it reported in the media.
In another case, a 42-year-old auto-rickshaw driver in Delhi was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a woman. This case was registered only because he was kidnapped and extorted for money.
These are just a couple of cases that we could find. And this is because sexual abuse of men cannot be reported and therefore isn’t covered by any media. There are probably many men who suffer from sexual harassment, violence and abuse. But, none of them can come forward to tell their story.
Need for change
There are multiple provisions for women against any and all sexual abuse in the constitution, The same is present for minors, be it male or female. So, why can’t there be a provision for men? If male child abuse victims can be protected, why can’t adult men be protected too?
Also, why do we consider men to be so invulnerable to everything? This idea is so deep-rooted that if we ask you to imagine a criminal and a victim, you’d almost always think of a man as a criminal while a woman as a victim. We need to change this image. We need to realise that men are victims too, that men are not invulnerable, that men are not ready for sex all the time.
Another aspect of it is that whenever the topic is brought up, the feminists shut it down saying that it is just an excuse for men when talking about sexual violence against women. While it is true that when arguing about sexual violence, men do bring the point up, it is a valid point. We need to show them that sexual violence against men is real, and not a defence against women’s sexual abuse. And that we stand with them too.