Kuhu Misra is a second-year undergraduate pursuing law from IP University, Delhi. Apart from being a Bibliophile, she also dabbles in amateur blogging and various oratory programs.
Rape- Not Just a Woman’s Issue; A Human Issue!
”Rape is not just a womens issue. It’s about men who stop behaving like human beings and start behaving like animals.”
This quotation exactly voices our opinion on the issue of Rape. Whenever a conversation revolves around rape, a Gender Based Violence, it starts with us imagining the likelihood and the circumstances under which the poor girl or lady or for that matter a small girl was assaulted. Maybe she was out late at night, maybe she was a villager who had gone into the forest to relieve herself or maybe the perpetrator was worse than an animal. Our mind which is sociologically trained to follow the customs and traditions of society automatically assumes that the victim of rape is a female. Although there is no denying the fact that largely it is females who are subjected to sexual assault, we tend to forget that males, the hunter, is also sometimes the hunted.
This may sound queer when it is said that a male, too, can be sexually assaulted. Society might probably laugh it off as a prank. And even if somebody related to the victim believes it, the first and the last advice given would be to bury the incident and move forward in life. What makes it so difficult for society to accept that a male can be sexually assaulted? Why is man always the hunter and not the hunted? The answer lies in the conditioning of our society which trains the individual especially the males in having a superior existence which is displayed by a sense of machismo which forbids them to have a sense of sensitivity or an emotional side to their personality. People take pride when they condition their sons to value their masculinity but they forget that such social prejudices are the stepping stones of a long-term disease of bias which may prove harmful for their own selves in the future.
SITUATION OF MEN AS VICTIMS OF ASSAULT
In India, an average of 6 rapes occur daily with 98% of the time the crime being committed by a person known to the victim. Out of these six cases even if one case is an assault of a man, would the public or the police take notice? The immediate reaction of the police on being approached for filing a report would be- is the man mad or is it some kind of a prank? Not just public authorities, the family of the victim itself would not accept that their little or teenage son could be sexually assaulted as the incident usually occurs vice versa, doesn’t? What about the poor little boy or the teenage boy who is eventually stepping into the realm of adulthood? Will they ever understand what happened to them? Will they ever communicate to their parents about the trauma they are going through? The answer to the above questions is probably a ‘No’. A ‘No’ because a majority of parents will not believe such allegations which will further put the child in self-doubt as to whether the harassment he faced was acceptable or would society judge him if he spoke about it openly.
Men and boys who have been subjected to sexual violence may experience the same effects of sexual assault as the other survivors, and they may face other challenges unique to their own experience. Men assaulted as children might respond differently from men assaulted as adults. The victim may face bouts of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Being placed in a patriarchal society, the men may face a sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault especially if they experienced an erection or ejaculation. A feeling of being ’less of a man’ may crop up owing to the failure to protect their masculinity. The victims may also seek isolation and disconnect themselves from the outer world. The need here is to understand that sexual assault is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the victim and a person’s sexual orientation cannot be caused due to sexual assault. Some men and boys question their sexuality after surviving an abuse which is quite understandable. In some cases where adults sexually abuse younger boys, they use the physiological response of an erection to blackmail them into secrecy stating that they too liked it, despite knowing erection is involuntary, meaning the person has no control over it.
LEGAL VIEW ON MEN BEING VICTIMS OF ABUSE
The Indian law in section 377 of the Indian Penal Code provides for the criminalization of same-sex intercourse, consensual or forced, with punishment same as that of rape. There is a need to include man also as a victim in the definition of rape in Section 375 Indian Penal Code which terms only woman as the victim of rape. This would help provide proper compensation to male victims so that they can at least afford some therapy or treatment to return to their normal lives.
There might be many more instances which we can quote to support the cause. But what we need to do and focus upon as a society is the collective effort towards the change in the mindset of the people. What we need to bring about is transparency not only in the society but amongst our relations as well. Reporting sexual abuse takes a lot of courage and when a victim musters such courage we, along with the public authorities, should always stand by their side irrespective whether the victim is a male or female. A male victim, too, deserves the same amount of sympathy, love and care as the female does because the abuse has not only been inflicted on the body but the soul has been tarnished as well. Irrespective of the anatomic structure, a human being has been harmed and we, being fellow beings, should support our members of society for the sake of humanity. I know it is easier said than done. But there is an urgency for a social revolution and the wheel of change has begun moving forward. I hope in the near future the victim of any abuse or violence will be supported without being discriminated on the basis of gender.