True it is that it may be a bad time to be a woman in India. But even as you pick up your newspaper first thing tomorrow and read about another rape and molestation chances are that a similar crime against a man has gone sadly unnoticed. Yes, we are a generation who has vociferously spoken out against against crime against women. But if that be the case then why is our attitude towards men any different? If gender is a spectrum why are females considered the end of it? It beggars belief that the Indian Penal Code does not recognize rape or sexual assault of men as a crime. What is the idea of feminism then if we don’t have gender-neutral laws to begin with. Section 375 of IPC dealing with rape and legal provisions against it implies that if a rape is committed then the woman is the victim by default , and the man the prepatrator.
Sexual harrassment of men is very much real and it’s time enough we start giving it the attention it deserves. The machoism of the notion that “Men fo not feel pain” patronizes emotional castration of men to the point that it forces them to muffle their cries and throttle their plea for help.
The Indian Constitution completely neglects the possibility of mem being victims of sexual abuse. The society has condotioned us to think of domestic violence as a form of torture that is metted out only to women. But statistics show that upto 3 crore men have been at the receiving end of spousal abuse at some point in their marriage. And this is only a rough estimate. Most cases do not get reported not only because of the social stigma attached to it but also because of an acute dearth of legislation and the fear of being slapped with a false dowry case (which’, ofcourse, will tilt in favour of the women).
The Sexual Harrassment of Women at the Workplace act of 2013 by its very nomenclature serves to protect only women. It is indeed surprising that a misandry of this magnitude can exist at a time when we are fighting for equal rights for both the sexes. The general perception is that men cannot be victims of violence by virtue of their physical strength. This belief is so deeply ingrained in the human psyche that sexual harrassment of men has almost become a taboo, which, under its garb of silence only breeds ignorance. Do not mistake to think thst this violence is limited to the domestic household. If figures are to be believed then upto 13 per cent of men in the age group of 18 – 24 have faced online harrassnent. And then again to add insult to injury , the number of such researches and data thus gathered is shamefully insufficient.
Is it then too much to ask for gender-neutral laws at a time when the agenda of gender equality is gaining momentum?