Delhi HC takes first step towards gender-neutral rape provisions
Is rape gender exclusive? Yes, if you go by the Indian Penal Code. According to it, men rape women. And that's that. It doesn't acknowledge any other situation. But things might change soon. The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the Centre's response to a Public Interest Litigation that urges the framing of gender-neutral rape provisions.
What is the PIL about?
Petitioner Sanjiv Kumar has challenged the constitutionality of rape provisions under IPC's Sections 375 and 376. According to him, the Indian law recognizes man as the perpetrator and woman as the victim in every case, which overrides "the reality of rape and sexual assault outside the male-on-female paradigm." He has urged the bench to acknowledge the importance of gender-neutral laws and make necessary amendments.
'Consent is of utmost importance in rape cases'
In his 138-page long petition, Kumar details the importance of consent and bodily integrity of both men and women, thus bringing to forefront the 'no means no' debate one more time. With films like Pink and Anaarkali of Arrah, and cases of Mahmood Farooqui and Tarun Tejpal initiating a public discourse, the PIL only adds fuel to the raging fire.
'Recognition of male victimization doesn't undermine the notion of patriarchy'
Kumar, in the petition states, "Recognition of male victimization does not undermine the notion of patriarchy; it merely acknowledges that sexual coercion can also, in a minority of cases, exist in other contexts." The case is slated for an October 23 hearing. If India makes its rape laws more inclusive, it will join the club of over 63 countries that consider rape as gender-neutral.