THE OTHER SIDE OF THE EQUALITY COIN!- MALE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE DO EXIST
Updated: Mar 31
Author: Adv. Siddhi Gokuldas Naik, II year of LL.M.(Specializing in Criminal Law) from V.M.Salgaocar College of Law, Miramar-Panaji, Goa
Mard ko bhi dard hota hai!
Men, precisely termed as “Mard” in Indian society, are habitually expected to be strong, bold, and courageous. At a very young age, boys are burdened with society’s expectations of masculinity. Right from their childhood, they are taughtto maintain a stiff-upper-lip. The disgrace encircling men’s emotions are triggered with general beliefs like, “Men do not cry”, “Be a man”, “Men should remain strong even in the face of pain”, “A man should not ask for help as it is a sign of his weakness”, “Men should not express their emotions”, and many more.
‘Being a man’ is regarded as the supreme title that a man can achieve. Generally, violent conduct is correlated to“normal boyish behavior”which is why often men are expected to resort to force to retaliate when they face any conflict. Perhaps, that is the reason why men are almost always painted as the perpetrators while at times they can be the victims too.
THE DANGEROUS SILENCE ENVELOPING SEXUAL ABUSE AGAINST MEN
In a country like India, gender is a social structure that is generally controlled by factors such as race, caste, culture, sexuality, class, traditions, etc. The gender roles assigned in society are very firm giving birth to unwanted stereotypes.
Rape or Sexual abuse are generally identified as crimes against women. The percept of society that men are the mightiest amongst all brings in the idea that men cannot be raped or abused and also that they are not even susceptible to it. However, in reality, it has been reported that there is a notable rise in sexual violence against men in India. Yet, it is nowhere into talks. There are different sorts of sexual crimes such as sexual harassment at the workplace, rape, unconsented sexual contact, and so on. We generally hear about women going through all of it, at a very expeditious rate. However, on the other hand, we almost forgot that men can also be a victim of these.
Since this issue is rarely taken into account there is a negligible amount of research and study done on it. According to a recent survey done in the United States of America, one out of every ten rape victimsis a man in America. In the United Kingdom, 12,000 men are raped and 70,000 men are sexually assaulted almost every year. In India, the figures are quite secretive as rape on men is rarely reported.
Recently, a survey was conducted in seven different cities of India, which revealed that 51 % of the male Respondents had been sexually harassed in Bangalore, 31 % in Delhi, and 28% in Hyderabad. Around 38% of the Respondents stated that today men are as vulnerable to sexual harassment as women at workplaces in India.
REASONS WHY SEXUAL VIOLENCE OR ABUSE AGAINST MEN REMAIN UNDER THE VIEL
There are several causes why sexual crimes against men often go unreported. Some of them are listed below:
1. There is a strong misconception in society that men always crave sex and they get induced very easily. This gives birth to the misbelief that sexual intercourse involving a man is always with his consent which is not always the truth.
2. The likelihood of sexual abuse amongst men is not acknowledged or not even studied to have any of such cases getting disclosed.
3. There is a mindset in society that only women are raped or sexually abused. The mindless stereotypes about masculinity distance men to speak about it when they become victims of it. This depicts the lack of awareness encompassing the topic.
4. The fear of getting socially ridiculed, taunted, mocked, or insulted by people or getting questioned on their sexuality prevents men from voicing out their stories.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
The upbringing of men in the patriarchal society gives rise to toxic masculinity consisting of amplified masculine traits like, men should be emotionally unavailable and sexually aggressive.It is disheartening to know that many men who have survived child sexual abuse have faced reactions like, “You should have stood for yourself, Why didn’t you beat him up? You are a man!”
It is also important to realize the consequences on the health of men who have undergone sexual abuse. The impact may have varied manifestations ranging from physical, mental, social, economic, and cultural instabilities. If neglected, it can lead to habits of depression, stress, guilt, shame, self-blame, suicide, and so on. Male victims generally experience frustration because it is difficult for them to accept the fact that the crime is committed against them being a man. They surrender themselves to tools like alcohol and drugs to ease their pain. They feel ashamed of themselves for not being man enough or a fear of them being homosexual arises.
UNHEARD STORIES OF MALE VICTIMS
1. Reynhard Sinaga, an Indonesian serial rapist popularly known as Britain’s prolific rapist was sentenced to imprisonment for thirty years recently. He would often wait for men outside nightclubs, lead them to his flat, drug them, and then rape them. He used to also film the entire act. As per records, he has approximately 159 cases registered under his name.
2. In 2021, a 10-year-old boy was raped in the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, by a man in his locality. He was taken to a quiet place and sexually molested. He managed to escape home and informed his parents about the same. However, no efforts have been taken by the police to provide justice to the minor boy while the accused is roaming freely in society.
3. In 2019, a 36-year-old man in Vashi Navi, Mumbai was raped horrendously by 5 men. To save his life, he had to immediately undergo surgery. He was forcibly taken to a deserted place when he was smoking a cigarette. The Accused also inserted a coconut shell in his anus while sodomizing him.
4. In 2019, a 22-year-old man was raped by four men in a moving car for three long hours and was thrown on the road. According to reports, the four suspects used to follow the victim on Instagram. They traced his location through a post and approached him saying that they were his huge fans. They pulled him into a car and then committed the act.
5. A Physical Education teacher from Pune was booked for allegedly sexually assaulting a male student of class IX. The teacher took the boy to the school toilet after class and committed the act.
WHAT COULD BE THE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM?
To battle the situation, there is a dire need to address the following aspects:
1. Currently, in India, there is no law specifically protecting men against rapes or sexual harassment. Provisions of rape under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and sexual harassment under The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 are addressing such crimes committed only against women. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees a Right to Equality to every person irrespective of gender. Therefore gender-neutral laws are the need of the hour. Therehas to be a law protecting males as well from such offenses.
2. Male victims have to be given an opportunity of being heard. No mercy has to be provided to any perpetrator.
3. When we talk about the Rights of Women, the Rights of Men should not be neglected. The target is to empower women but not by ignoring other genders.
4. There is a serious inadequacy in terms of awareness amongst the general public on the said topic. Creating awareness will help men gather the courage to speak up against the crime.
5. Public platforms like media, televisions, debates, seminars, conferences, campaigns, etc can play a major role in breaking stereotypes and normalizing the recognition of sexual abuse against men as a crime. This can also help in changing the toxic mindset of society to a large extent.
Crimes like Sexual assault or Rape can be committed against any person irrespective of age,sexual orientation, or gender identity. However, the ground question that remains is, Do men have any remedy or right if they are sexually abused or raped? The answer is NO.
Rape is Rape that can be committed on a person of any gender. To quote Justice Krishna Iyer, “The murderer kills the body but the rapist kills the soul!”In times of modernization, there has been a lot of change in the societal norms, however, the silence edging sexual abuse against men is like a black dot that keeps on getting enlarged. We need to wipe it off before it corrupts the society comprising the future generations.
Big time, we change the statement from ‘Mard ko dard nahi hota’ to ‘Mard ko bhi dard hota hai’!