Disclaimer: Originally published in May 2018. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
In India, the horrifying scene that chokes up anyone’s mind as we are asked to talk about rape is the exclusive male-on-female offence.
The case of a 14-year-old boy from Mumbai who was lured into a room and raped mercilessly by a man turned into a cold store as police lacked the sensitivity to deal with a crime of such degree.
Around 53 percent of the ‘sampled’ 12,447 children in families, school and street were found to be boys who have faced sexual assault by a 2007 survey conducted by the ministry of child and women development.
The figure rose to 60 percent in Delhi.
Considering rape as sub-species of sexual assault involving forced sexual intercourse committed by an individual or a group of persons against another without consent, the gravity of the offence need not be dictated by a person’s gender.
This is the narrative of a devastating incident of a man from Mumbai throwing shame, guilt, and trauma into the mix of PTSD similar to the one experienced by combat veterans.
“My uncle was giving me a bath when I was 7 years old, and that’s when it first happened. He forced me to give him a blow job and proceeded to have anal sex with me, multiple times. At that point, I didn’t know what was happening to me, whether it was ok, whether it was normal. I got so used to it, I would enter his house and lie down on the bed, just wanting it to get over as soon as possible.
At 12, I began to get gang-raped by his friends, and I would bleed but keep quite…because what if I wasn’t considered ‘man enough’ to not bear pain? My childhood went by having two worlds where I would not remember the rape until something triggered it off and then I would cry endlessly. I would not enter a male washroom because I was scared that I would be raped again…I grew up having no self esteem.
It was when I was 17 or 18 that I began to understand that what had been happening to me for so many years was wrong–so one day when he came to jump on me, I kicked him and said no. For the first time in 11 years, I said no to being raped.”
Source: Humans of Bombay
In addition to the blog post by Vinodhan which went viral, he even stated that,
“Sometimes rape is inflicted on men just to shame them; to supposedly insult their masculinity.”
Let’s look at the reasons highlighting the gap between the adult male sexual assaults and the amount that gets reported to the police.
The Patriarchal Mindset
We live in a world where the society associates men with being masculine, resilient, self-sufficient, dominant in sexual relations and strong enough to protect others while defending themselves.
An experience of rape opens up their vulnerability isolating them from the mass belief that boys don’t cry. The social stigma of feeling “less than a man” reduces them to sexist stereotypes where they prefer to mask their feelings instead of addressing them.
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The “Heterosexual” Assumption
The idea of “gayness” that is inevitably linked with the society’s perception of such crimes adversely affects men from talking about such incidents.
They fear that their involvement in such a crime would lead others to assume that they are not straight.
Moreover, the perpetrators of sexual assault strive to ensure that the victim achieves an ejaculation or erection so as to confuse the police and erase the impending blame on themselves.
It is fair enough to say that men struggling under the mounting pressure of masculinity are inclined to unbearable or chaotic thoughts in such situations.
Another challenging societal barrier which is a mere extension of the archaic patriarchy is regarding “gayness” as a mere weakness or an effeminate gesture looked upon with contempt by most men.
Seeing Rape As A Gender-Specific Term
Men who suffer at the hands of a female perpetrator have their own set of complicated issues. The same mindset which is a function of patriarchy labeling men as ever-ready sexual beings are dismissive of the concept of “consent” in the context of men.
Sexual humiliation or assault through forced oral sex or rectal penetration is not a lesser violation of mind, spirit, and sense of self than forced penile penetration.
Both men and women have the right to live with dignity.
We need to protect the “sexual autonomy” of individuals invading both men and women in such cases.
The Need for “Stronger” Legal Framework
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code is not inclusive of male victims of rape.
In an event of sexual assault, the only route through which justice can be sought is Section 377’s anti-sodomy law in case the perpetrator is male.
First of all, sodomy is not considered as an actual rape.
We fail to strike the distinction between consensual and non-consensual acts between two male adults.
Last but not the least, there is no mechanism for finding justice if the perpetrator is a woman.
The man is left feeling adrift without any right to complain even if the sexual act committed was ‘unwanted’.
I am not merely presenting a perspective as a backlash against the feminist school of thought.
Male victims of the society often fall prey to the patriarchal structure of the society and we need to acknowledge their right to say “No” too.
Image Credits: Google Images