Silence Of The Lambs: Sexual Harassment Of Men In India


Everyday as I go through the online portals or read the newspaper, there is one  new case of sexual assault; at times it becomes a page in itself bringing to the light the ubiquity of the crime across the length and breadth of India. No matter where you- which hamlet, town or city you are in, there is hardly a place where one can  claim that there has been no sexual offence. But one would say that this holds true for other crimes as well. Crimes like theft, fraud,even murder and kidnapping for that matter, can be found almost in every corner of the world. Thus, more than a regional or geographically specific behaviour, it is indicative of a ubiquitous criminal tendency..

My purpose here, however, is to try and gauge if the preponderance of a specific form of crime can be indicative of a cultural ethos or a belief system that is prevalent in a certain place. So, for example, a few years back when Bihar came to be known as  the land of thugs and goons involved in kidnapping rackets, how is it different from West Bengal that has recently recorded the highest number of instances of violence against women? Why is it that one particular form of crime is more dominant and prevalent than the other in a specific region?

Limiting our gaze still further, while talking about sexual assault, it is indeed counter-productive for the purposes of meting out justice that there exists a deathly silence about male abuse despite its prevalence. According to a Human Rights Watch survey in 2013, one in every two boys is  sexually abused in India. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) too defines rape as the non-consensual or forceful intercourse by a man with a woman. The definition completely ossifies both victimhood and criminal identity; it leaves no space for men seeking justice for having being  suffered sexual abuse at  the hands of men and women. Although there is a separate law dealing with child abuse, but this does not include adult men, who undergo severe physical and mental trauma after being subject to sexual harassment. As far as debates around its existence are concerned, the following accounts should be enough to give us a peek into the gravity of the situation.

Here are some of the recent  cases that made to the headlines:

All these cases reveal how any form of violence has its casualties on both sides of the fence. creating unnecessary pressure to keep the two identities in two separate air-tight jars of masculinity and femininity is definitely counter-productive and has its own costs. Rape is undoubtedly as much a threat for men as it is for women and it is imperative  that we begin acknowledging this fact to initiate  any real measures   towards gender equality. One needs to perhaps change the attitude of and towards both men and women, and do away with the pernicious logic that blames the suffererand conditions us to believe that it is best to reconcile  with  violence.  It is indeed a shame for us that such a perverse logic remains acceptable! It is our shame.

Lastly, it is my strong  belief that there is, and never will be, any justification for an institutionalized culture of hatred and violence; no matter who its perpetrators and sufferers are: men, women or the third gender.

Pallavi Ghosh

Image Source: [The Viewspaper]