Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Section 375 of the IPC
What to study?
For prelims: about POCSO, Section 375.
For mains: need for gender neutrality, associated concerns, challenges and measures needed.
Context: Defending India’s gender-specific rape law under which the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court that “the existing definition of rape under Section 375 (rape) should be left untouched”.
Why? (Arguments by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA):
- These sections have been enacted to protect and keep a check on the rising level of sexual offences against women in the country.
- The existing definition of rape under Section 375 should be left untouched as the “ambit of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which covers all forms of sexual offences against minors, and Section 377 of the IPC were adequate to cover all sexual offences”.
The MHA’s affidavit came in response to a public interest petition claiming that the existing law pertaining to rape was gender specific and protects only females.
The High Court had previously asked the Centre to clarify its stand on the issue, particularly in view of the recommendation of the Law Commission of India, to make rape laws “gender neutral”.
Arguments by the petitioner:
- Gender neutrality is a simple recognition of reality — men sometimes fall victim to the same, or at least very similar, acts to those suffered by women.
- Male rape is far too prevalent to be termed an anomaly or freak incident. By not having gender-neutral rape laws, we are denying a lot more men justice than is commonly thought.
- In India, sexual crimes against boys under 18 years are covered under the POCSO Act, but once they become adults they do not have any legal recourse.
Sources: the Hindu.