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Sexual Assault in Males: Still a Myth

Sexual Assault in Males: Still a Myth

By Artika Bal

In recent years, rape has become an intense topic of research for in both popular as well as intellectual journals. As per general definition, rape is a kind of sexual assault that involves either sexual intercourse or any kind of sexual penetration without a person’s consent. This act may involve force, abuse or pressure. Different organisations have different definitions of rape. The World Health Organisation defines rape as a form of sexual assault, whereas Centres for Disease Control and Prevention includes “rape” in the definition of sexual assault. Whatever be the definition of rape, one part remains constant, i.e., “without a person’s consent”. This part is unchangeable in any definition. A “person” here means a woman or a man. But, due to the social structure and taboo, we have started believing that a “person”, in this context, means a woman only.

The article is about sexual assault in males and how it is still considered as a non- existent thing. According to a survey conducted in the US, by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it was found that approx. 1 out of 71 men had been raped or had been agonized by an attempt. The male-male rape cases mostly go unreported because of lack of equipment to deal with such crimes. The male victims who get sexually assaulted by women face social, political as well as legal double standards. That’s why many such cases are going unheard. The issue of sexual assault during military training had been a matter of concern since past few years. Around 50% of such victims are males, but the focus usually lies towards the female rapes.  Both of the incidents should be given equal importance. A 2014 study on a particular study said that 95% of sexual assault cases in males had reported female perpetrators.[1] In India, recently the government had decided to introduce death penalty for rapists of girls aged below 12. But there is no mention for male victims. The minimum punishment for raping a boy is spending 10 years in prison, whereas the same is 20 years when it comes to girls.[2] Male rape should be recognised in Indian law and proper actions should be taken. Section 375[3] mentions about a man raping a woman, but there is no such law or section for men, that is highly unacceptable. Rape should be considered as a gender-neutral crime. A PIL was filed before the Supreme Court to enact a provision for punishment of women for rape in 2018.

Indian law is often biased when it comes to laws related to sexual assault and harassment as well as adultery cases. Due to this kind of discrimination, there can also be a violation of Article 15 of the Constitution. Such crimes should not consider age, gender or caste or sexual orientation as factors of discrimination.

Due to the prevalent social taboo that “norm” that men have to be strong and because of the escalated version of masculinity, many male victims have never spoken up. This happened due to fear of society. Their stories are left unheard. Sexual assault in men is often related to losing manliness and are mocked about. Many of them have also carped that usually the male physicians also treat them indifferently. Many of them suffer from severe anxiety and depression and they are scared and embarrassed to get any help from anyone. Men even get humiliated if they are assaulted sexually. But the myth is that if men ejaculate, that means they enjoy it and if the perpetrator is a male too, then it signifies that the victim is a gay or masochist.[4] There is a thin line of difference between physical arousal and sexual pleasure. Physical arousal is more of a biological occurrence, whereas sexual pleasure is more psychological and emotional. Most of us confuse both of the occurrences and end up having misconceptions. There is an old English rhyme that says,

“In our town the other day

They hanged a man to make him pay

For having raped a little girl

As life departed from the churl

The townsfolk saw, with great dismay

His organ rise in boldest way

A sign to all who stood around

The pleasure e’en in death is found.”

In this poem it is clear how people confused a physical phenomenon with an emotional one. Such an erection (in the above context) usually happen as a result of a complete physiological process where different reflexes congregate upon the lumbar cord reflex centre during asphyxiation.[5]

The men are also supposed to take some remedies. If they are sexually assaulted, they should gain courage and try to speak to speak to his family or someone who he feels can understand him. In case of psychological trauma, he is supposed to be taken to a psychiatrist who can understand and read his mental health at that moment.

A movement called the Real India Men’s Rights Movement was started in 2000 in Mumbai by a men’s rights organisation to support the male victims who had been tortured and harassed by their wives.

I believe it is a high time that we start recognizing sexual assault as a gender-neutral crime. Just like females, males do get traumatised and they might live in that trauma for a long time if not treated accordingly. The doctors and medical practitioners need to be well-informed about the ways to deal with such victims and such psychological states. More studies should be done and more legal provisions should be introduced to support and heal these victims. A society should be formed without discrimination. The men should be treated equally in these matters and we should definitely rethink about our mentality.

A healthy society can be built only with a healthy population without undermining anyone. Every woman and every man are an important part of a developing society. There is no point ignoring one’s problems. Therefore, the society should stand with them and not against them. Only if we support them, the law will also change and they will get justice.

[1] Conor Friedersdorf, The Understudied Female Sexual Predator, November 28, 2016

[2] India today, May 8, 2018’t get-talked-about-1229086-2018-05-08

[3] The Indian Penal Code,1860

[4] Sigmund Fred Fuchs, “Male Sexual Assault: Issues of Arousal and Consent”, 2004.

[5] Id. At 103

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