EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIGITAL RAPE!
Author: Adv. Siddhi Gokuldas Naik, BA.LL.B, LLM (Specialized in Criminal Law, Currently a practising Advocate in Goa)
“When a man rapes a woman, it is not violence just towards her body but an act of violence against the female identity. It is an act of men celebrating their control over the female body and self!”
The initial reaction of people when they hear theterm‘Digital Rape’ is that, a rape might have occurred digitally or online. These kinds of misunderstandings not only smack of foolishnessbut also demonstrate how serious our culture is about taming animalistic tendencies.In reality, digital rape has nothing to do with sending lewd photos, abusing computers, or harassing people online. Rather, it is a word used for classifying several rape situations.
SO, WHAT CONSTITUTES A DIGITAL RAPE?
Digital rape is a long-standing problem that currently undermines human civilization. The act of forcibly inserting a finger or toe inside someone else's intimate areas without permission is referred to as "digital rape." The words "digit" and "finger," "thumb," and "toe" are interchangeable in English. These organs are put into the victim's intimate areas. Even though it goes without saying, it is always done through force.
After the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape incident, digital rape was categorized as a sexual offense. Up until that point, it was distinguished as molestation, but today, as perIndian law, it falls under the definition of rape.
LAW AGAINST DIGITAL RAPE IN INDIA
Indian laws solely recognize female victims and male perpetrators, although the phrase "digital rape" is gender-neutral and encompasses all types of victims and offenders. Legislators divided rape victims into two groups. Major and Minor digital rapists who commit crimes against adults will be punished under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 but those who commit crimes against minors may be tried under both Section 375 and theProtection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
Section 375 defines a digital rapist as anybody who “inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person.”
Meanwhile, Section 3 of the POCSO act defines a digital rapist as anyone who,“inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of the child or makes the child do so with him or any other person.”
Although the death penalty should be the appropriate punishment for such acts, Indian law allows for lighter sentences on "humanitarian grounds." The rapist would only receive a five-year sentence which can be increased to ten years. However, the Court has the authority to sentence the rapist to spend the rest of his life in prison if it seems proper.
An investigation by DNAfound that 70% of these incidents involved family members. Only a small percentage of offenses are reported, though. This is because most people are not familiar with rape laws or the concept of "digital rape." Legal Service India reported that the rapist is known to the victim in 29% of cases. The victim knows the criminal through their social network, friends, or at work. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) claims that over 31,000 cases of digital rape were reported in India in 2021.
SOME RECENT INSTANCES OF DIGITAL RAPE
In Noida, an 81-year-old man has been detained for raping a 17-year-old girl. He was allegedly a sketch artist and had been raping the girl since she was 10 years old. The girl's family had sent her to live and study at the home of an elderly man. She was hesitant to report the incident at first, but eventually, she had confidence. She obtainedvideo proof of the incidentand went to the police.After an FIR was filed against him under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 (Rape), 323(Voluntarily causing harm), and 506 (Criminal Intimidation), the accused Maurice Ryder was arrested.
Manoj Lala, a 50-year-old man from Noida, was sentenced to life imprisonment in August 2022 for digitally raping a baby girl who was seven months old. In yet another case from June 2022, a man from Noida was arrested after his mother filed a police report accusing him of digitally raping his five-year-old daughter.
The crime of rape is abhorrent. A crime against humanity, that is. It impairs the victim's fundamental abilities. The victim will never again be the same as she or he was before the act. Regardless of who commits the crime and in what capacity, they ought to get the harshest possible punishment.