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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Rape Laws in India

Rape Laws in India

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Rape is a stigma which exists in the society from a long time. The dictionary meaning of word rape is “the ravishing or violation of a woman.” The rape victim i.e. a woman as woman cannot commit rape due to biological reasons. She is traumatized after the event; it is very difficult for a woman to come out of this trauma. Rape in India is a cognizable offence. There are many provisions in various Acts. The word rape is legally defined u/s 375 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. It defines the rape and also prescribes its punishment. Whenever a man penetrates or does sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent or will it amounts to rape. Penetration here means that only a slightest of the touch of penis to vagina amounts to rape, unruptured hymen of woman does not prove that rape was not committed. There are exceptions to it also i.e. when a man does sexual intercourse with his wife who is above 15 years of age. The rape law under Indian Penal Code had gone through a lot of amendments. In 1983, amendment was made and S. 376(2) i.e. Custodial rape, S. 376(A) i.e. marital rape & S. 376(B to D) i.e. Sexual Intercourse not amounting to rape were added.

Rape is a crime, which has a devastating effect on the survivors; it has been described as a “beginning of a nightmare”. The aftershocks include depression, fear, guilt-complex, suicidal-action, diminished sexual interest. etc., “one becomes afraid of’……..writes a victim, “half the human race”. Referring to the pitiable condition of women in society Mr. Justice S. Ahmad observed that “unfortunately, a woman in our country, belongs to a class or group of society who are in a disadvantaged position on account of several social barriers and impediments and have therefore, been victims of tyranny at the hands of men with whom they, unfortunately, under the Constitution “enjoy, equal status”. “Women also have the right to life and liberty; they also have the right to be respected and treated as equal citizens. Their honour and dignity cannot be touched or violated. They also have the right to lead an honorable and peaceful life”.
Rape under English law is defined more particularly where the law cover all the aspect of rape. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which came into force in April 2004, rape in England and Wales was redefined from non-consensual vaginal or anal intercourse, and is now defined as non-consensual penile penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person. The changes also made rape punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Although a woman who forces a man to have sex cannot be prosecuted for rape under English law, if she helps a man commit a rape she can be prosecuted for the crime (see, for example, the conviction of Claire Marsh in 2001). A woman can also be prosecuted for causing a man to engage in sexual activity without his consent, a crime which also carries a maximum life sentence if it involves penetration of the mouth, anus or vagina. The statute also includes a new sexual crime, called “assault by penetration”, which also has the same punishment as rape, and is committed when someone sexually penetrates the anus or vagina with a part of his or her body, or with an object, without that person’s consent.
The Amendment 1983 has brought about some important changes in the existing laws of rape as a response to the growing public opinion demanding more stringent anti rape laws. It amends Section 376 IPC and enhances the punishment of rape it also provides enhanced punishment of minimum of 10 years of imprisonment for police officers or staff of jail, the remand homes or other places of custody established by law. The Act further inserts a new Section 114-A IEA, by raising a presumption as to absence of consent in cases of custodial rape, rape on pregnant women and gang rape at least partially, removed the infirmity from the evidence of a victim of rape that was hitherto unjustly attached to her testimony without taking note of the fact that in India, unlike the occident a disclosure of the girls identity, rehabilitation in society for all times to come and unless her story was painfully true she would not have taken such a grave risk merely to malign the accused.
Severe and certain punishment in a time bound manner, of the rapists has some deterrent value. Arrest alone may not constitute a strong societal response. Lengthy prison sentences have some behavior-altering deterrent values. Many well-known jurists and public men have advocated capital punishment for the criminals who commit rape as it is an offence worse than murder so far as its impact is concerned. Still there is need for amending the anomaly related to the age of consent, and of wife in accordance with the Marriage Act in India.
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