UNICEF says gender equality “means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they are treated exactly alike.”
Gender equality is very subjective. The focus of gender equality work varies depending on the meaning assigned to the concept. Since the time we can go back into history the concept of misogyny has been prevailing. Women are believed to be the weaker section of society. On the other hand, men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold. These stereotypes create a stigma among men which hinders them to raise voice against violence happened with them. In simpler words, they are not supposed to cry or be vulnerable because they are “strong” as a gender type. Since we have assumed women to be the weaker gender our laws provide protection to their rights and gives them a platform to raise voice for themselves and obtain justice.
According to the Criminal Law(amendment), act 2018 Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.This states that men are the only perpetrators and women are the only victims and not vice-versa.
In the movie, Section 375, starring Akshaye Khanna and Richa Chadda, we see that Rohan Khurana, a celebrated filmmaker, stands accused of rape by Anjali Dangle, a junior costume designer, and is sentenced to ten years of jail time by a sessions court. At the end of the movie, Richa Chadda who was playing the role of a lawyer providing justice to the girl faces a trickery by the victim who was not actually raped and just wanted to take her revenge from the accused. She issued the law of section 375. Akshaye Khanna who understood the trickery tried to save the accused but the society had already made up their mind. Before the ruling of the Court could be announced the society marks the accused guilty irrespective of any proof. The accused had to spend his 10 years of life in jail in charge of a false rape accusation only because of an error in judgement.
In 2014, the Delhi commission of women put out a report stating that 53.2% of rape cases filed between April 2013-14 July were false.
However, children(both boys and girls) are protected under the Protection of Children from Sexual offences Act 2012. Also, a sample survey has found that more than half the victims of child sexual abuse are boys. If minor males can be raped, what makes us think that adult men can’t be raped by men in positions of power?National Human Rights Commission, for example, found that sexual abuse on men in India’s prisons was the top reason for the high number of suicides by inmates.
Moreover, a new bill has been presented, the Criminal Law(Amendment) Bill, 2019 which makes sexual assault as a gender-neutral crime. Though, it nowhere mentions ‘rape’ and gives a vague definition of sexual assault. This bill is yet to be passed.. Even when these laws exist, society does not see men as being a rape victim. People simply cannot digest the fact that a woman can rape a man. If a guy tells someone that he was molested by a girl people will plainly laugh it off suggesting that the guy “should have enjoyed” it instead of feeling violated.
By this, we do not mean that only a woman can assault a man. Any gender can be a perpetrator or a victim. Rape is a serious crime against which all the genders should have access to raise their voices.
With the decriminalization of section 377 which now allows all consensual “unnatural sex, such as, sodomy to be legal. Nobody seems to be charged for consensual sex though, as it requires a complainant. Whether a male rape victim is straight or gay, acknowledging rape comes with the fear of being accused of being homosexual. For a gay man to report male rape is nearly impossible thanks to 377.
We live in a society where whosoever is at fault, and no matter what is wrong we understand only that much which our narrow mindsets allow. If there is a rape case being discussed we will by default mark the guy as a criminal. We don’t allow our mind to look for proofs or think with a different perspective. ” Jab itne saare log awaz utha rhe h toh sach hi hoga” by this we join the community of “saare log” without thinking. For example, if we look at the case of Manav Singh. Manav Singh, a 17-year-old boy who committed suicide due to being falsely accused of rape of a girl. The girl confessed via #metoo that she was raped two years ago but there was no evidence. But immediately after her story, that went viral and she and her friends started giving threats to Manav. He strongly felt that his side of the story was not being heard as he was constantly being abused by people around and they started judging him. So, he committed suicide. If it was the opposite case where a girl committed suicide all the feminists from around the world would’ve stood up. People may have organised candle marches or named this day something so that future generations remember it. But Manav was a boy.
The recent “boyslockerroom” issue received a lot of attention. A group of boys made an Instagram account to body shame, rate and sharing pictures of minor girls. Many feminists stood up for the issue. The boys were teenagers and minors. After a few days, an issue of #girlslockerroom too came up. We have seen both were discussing and objectifying the other gender. However, people raised objection only to the boys chat messages. But almost none found any problem with the chat messages from #GirlsLockerRoom which were also discussing sexually explicit content not only about other boys but also about other girls. If boys did objectification of the girls, girls did the same too. However, the feminists and online social media judges responded that the #GirlsLockerRoom chat messages were fake. People who are in continuous denial about crimes committed by girls and women continued to disregard all evidence presented to them.
Along with the #Boyslockerroom case another case came up where a Snapchat screenshot was being circulated on social media. The screenshot displayed a chat of two boys one of them named ‘Siddharth’ was suggesting the other boy to gangrape a girl who was their mutual acquaintance. ‘Siddharth’ kept suggesting the other guy of raping the girl but the other guy never agreed. People started asking questions and raising voices against this. Later when Delhi Police tracked down the boy ‘Siddharth’ it was shocking to know that it was actually a girl, using a fake account to do a ‘character assessment’ of the other guy. The police had to close the case as the girl was a minor and this was a mere childish act.
Further, the frequency of domestic violence against men has increased in recent years, and many cases go unreported as men feel too ashamed to report abuse, or fear false accusations against them in reprisal. Men’s rights activists claim that anti-dowry laws in India are frequently being misused to harass and extort husbands, and attributed this to the high suicide rate among married men in India, which is almost twice that of women. They claim that divorce and child custody laws are biased against men. According to NCRB, 80% of all dowry cases in India end in acquittel
The practise of giving dowry is currently criminalised under he Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code which deals with cruelty to a wife states that:
• Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
The Section 113b of the Indian Evidence Act, 1879 says that if a married woman committed suicide within seven years of marriage, it must be assumed by the court that her husband and his family made her do that, especially if there was evidence of prior dowry demands.
According to SIFF(Save Indian Family Foundation), these laws don’t follow conventional legal premises where a person is innocent until proven guilty.
Swarup Sarkar, a spokesperson of SIFF, has said that men with low incomes are rarely targeted and most victims of misuse are well-off. He has claimed that these laws assume that women are always truthful, and don’t place much importance on evidence. He has termed misuse of these laws, legal terrorism.
In April 2003, the Supreme Court of India granted a woman divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. Although four or five out of ten divorce cases in India allege mental agony, Ram Prakash Chugh said that if a man brought similar charges to a court, he will be unlikely to get a favourable ruling.
In September 2008, the Delhi High Court in a verdict said that a woman earning sufficient income is not entitled to maintenance from her divorced husband. The verdict came after a man challenged a family court’s decision to grant ₹7,500 monthly alimony to his wife. The man had pointed out that his wife was earning ₹80,000 for a month and had no other responsibilities.
Another example of Jasleen and Sarvjeet Case can be seen. In 2015 a girl, Jasleen Kaur accused Sarveet Singh of sexual harassment in 2015. She used Facebook to spread the confession and posted a picture of Sarvjeet. After which the media labelled him as ‘Delhi ka darinda’. On 25th October 2019, he was acquitted of all charges by Delhi’s Tis Hazari Court. For 4 years he eas being defamed by media and the citizens. According to our constitution, an accused is innocent until proven guilty but nobody cares about it. Sarvjeet Singh, despite the ruling of the court, has to suffer that defamation and the label given to him will not be wiped out for his whole life.
Moreover, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is not gender-neutral and applies to the protection of women only. Rajesh Vakahria, a member of SIFF, has pointed out the bill was originally gender-neutral until Ministry of Women and Child Development and some NGOs intervened and changed the name. He said that it was an outdated concept to consider that only women suffer from sexual harassment
So to sum up the laws in our Indian Constitution there’s only one law that supports men which is yet to be passed to be converted into an Act i.e. The Criminal Law(Amendment) Act 2019.