This is the shocking reality:
A 2007 survey by the ministry of women and child development, which sampled 12,447 children in families, schools, at work and living on the street, found that more than half had faced sexual abuse, and 53 percent of victims were boys. For the capital Delhi, the figure was 60 percent.
Why then do we only hear of the female victims, whether the male victims are children or adults? Here are a few reasons why more boys are raped than girls in India.
- Indian rape laws are not gender neutral, although there is a plan to make them so. Rape is considered rape if it is is of women by men.
- Male rape is not recognised. It is punished under Article 377, which criminalises homosexuality. It does not distinguish between consensual sex and sexual assault. Sexual assault on a male is considered to be “sodomy.”
- The minimum punishment for sodomy is about 10 years as opposed to 20 years for rape of women (and now the death penalty has been introduced for girl child rape).
- Males feel as much shame in reporting rapes as women do, although for different reasons. They fear that they will be labelled homosexuals, and there is plenty of homophobia in India. The law under which their rapist will be prosecuted underlines this.
- The police often do not take male rape seriously.
- Young boys are easy targets as they have greater freedom to be outside the home, as compared to girls (who are more protected).
- Often parents expect the male child (who has been raped) to man up and get over it. In the patriarchal society that we live in, boys are not seen as victims. After all, they do not get pregnant, and there is no stigma attached to losing their “virginity”. Counselling is not offered. Recently a 14-year-old boy committed suicide as he could not bear the trauma.
- Hospitals are not equipped to test for male rape in India. The victims are sent to the paediatric section or general surgery, where the doctors do not know how to collect swabs in a scientific manner. Prosecution, even under the charge of “sodomy” becomes difficult to prove.
There are no reliable statistics in India on adult male rape victims, although adult men are less likely to be victims than adult women. In the U.S. for example, an overwhelming majority of adult rape victims are women. However, rape in prison is not taken into consideration.
…a horrifying truth that has been unaddressed for decades – sodomy and rapes in jails, not just in India, but across the world. It happens in very corner of the world, even in the most rights-sensitive and well-equipped jails because it is part of prison-behaviour, particularly when so many criminals are together at one place fighting for supremacy, space, sex, food, entitlements and even mere survival.
Gang rape of adult men also happens, and not always in prison.