Living in a patriarchy society, Indians seems to be overburdened by the
patriarchal pride to an extent, that even the most focused and preferred gender
is being ignored and asked to shut down when it comes to sexual harassment or
abuse. Incidents of sexual violence or harassment where the victim’s gender is
male, are just treated in our society either as a myth, as a gossip food or a
matter of shame while ridiculing the victim. In order to apply Article 14of
the Indian Constitution, and give women a safe and impartial platform, today
we can openly talk about critical issues such as the need of availability of
sanitary napkins, protection of girl child, protection from rape and harassment.
But yet when it comes to men and their safety from rape and harassment, we find
a gap even in the legal system of the country. In fact, it becomes a daunting
task to even start the conversation about the forbidden topic.
But once, when the ice is decided to be shattered, all sort stories can be
heard. Stories about a relative asking favor in returns of some candies; an
elder cousin, teaching an unusual, painful game; a teacher professor or warden
blackmailing for underperformance or some added privileges; a middle-aged woman
feeling the private parts in a crowded vehicle or road, or a servant using the
innocence for satisfying his own shameful act. It is seen that such cases are
more sympathetically dealt with when gender is a female, but there is a long way
to go when it is about another gender, the male.
Legally, after the striking down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code,
which covered the sensitive topic of unnatural sex, men are not even recognized
the sector, which can be raped. As Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code,
considers the victim to be “only” female when it comes to heinous crime such as
rape. All sort of complexities are witnessed in the run of justice when the
roles are reversed as if compared, it is seen that there are lesser visible
signs of abuse when a male is abused and even lesser ways when one needs to
prove the incident. Section 498Aof Indian Penal Code has been a torturing
provision for many, because of false dowry cases. False rape cases on the
pretext of one or other have been rising since the new amendment in rape law in
2013 in India. In a study conducted by the Hindu regarding the rape cases
brought to trail in Delhi in the year 2013, it was found that most of such cases
were consensual sex criminalized by parents.
Thankfully, Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,2012,
has tried to bring a gender-neutral approach, when it comes to a male child
being abused, but still, the sector which has outgrown the age bar of a child
remains unprotected and harassed. As a welcoming step, The UGC (Prevention,
Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual harassment of women employees and students
in higher educational institutions) Regulations notified in May 2016, sexual
harassment is gender-neutral; male students are vulnerable to many forms of
sexual harassment like their women and transgender counterparts, but yet the
successful implementation requires decades.
The false pride on masculinity seems to be deep-rooted to a level, where
socially it is thought that no emotional damage is done even when abused. Few
even deny the existence of such abuse, as per them the stronger sex, eventually
ends up enjoying the act. Thanks to the series like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, where when
Joey complains about being wrongly touched by his tailor over the years, for
measurement, we have learned to laugh over such issues. Even the Indian
Bollywood industry, over and over portrays that it’s okay and in fact comical to
be harassed when it comes to the male sector, for example, Badrinath Ki
Dulhaniya. But again we should be thankful for movies like Aiytraj, and ‘B. A
Pass’ that now at leastwe know that our society is dangerously caught in the
web of child abuse, and there is existence to male abuse.
It is sad to see that with our progressive step towards equality, we are
creating a world, where the society automatically passes the judgment in case of
rape or dowry. Though several Indian courts judgments have noted this issue and
suggested reforms; for example, the recent ruling on adultery and more conscious
steps indicated to the police in dowry complaint cases. Still, there seems a
long way to go to break this silence, as many instances now ends up to a social
media memes or as a funny story to be discussed over tea.
In order to understand the present scenario when it comes to male sexual abuse
and harassment, it was found that the only reliable survey to rely on, about the
statistics of India, dates back to 2007, which was studied keeping in mind
2005 data collected by a Delhi based Non-Government Organization, Prayas, on the
basis of data from only 13 states of the country. It stated that more than 54 %
of the sexually abused children were male children. Since then there is no
record of another survey. It is important to note that during the year 2005,
India was home of only 19% of the world’s children, but now as per 2011 census,
it is a home for 39%, and since it is already 2019, the numbers of both the
children and the abused male children sector can be alarming.
Even the 2007 survey doesn’t include the male section, who is more than 24 years
of age; this leaves uncertainty in abuse cases especially at the workplace, when
it comes to the working sector of men. The Indian law provides guidelines
regarding harassment at the workplace; but the preamble of the guidelines
itself exclude men from the possibility of being the victim.
As per the 2007 survey, it is well established now that, it is young children,
of the age group 5-12 year group, who are at risk most. Significant findings
regarding abuse and harassment of the male child, the following observations,
were made in the report:
# Out of every three children, two were physically abused, more than 53%
faced one or other form of sexual abuse and every second child was reported
facing emotional abuse.
# 69% of total children were physically abused in the 13 surveyed
states, out of which 54.68% were boys. In cases of sexual and emotional abuse,
the equal percentage was witnessed among boys and girls.
# Most of them due to societal pressure did not report the matter to
# In cases of sexual abuse, around 50% abusers were people who were
known to the children.
If we compare the Indian scenario from the world, it is seen that worldwide, two
in every four adults were physically abused as children.WHOestimated that
the year 2002 itself, witnessed deaths of almost 53,000 child deaths due to
homicide. As per the recent report on child abuse, WHO declared that approximate
17 million male children under the age of 18, have experienced either sexual
violence or forced sexual intercourse.
As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or
completed rape and about 3% of American men have experienced an attempted or
completed rape in their lifetime.
The WHO, after analyzing laws and norms of 58 countries, even came up with a
common definition of child abuse and child maltreatment, as "all forms of
physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent
treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential
harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a
relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”
But yet the gap lies when it comes to studying the adults and their relation to
being sexually or physically abused.
On studying the worldwide trend, which is estimates of physical abuse from the
surveys based on population, it can be deduced that the gravity of this issue is
just not limited to India. For example, as per a 1995 study in the United
States, the parents physically abused 49 per 1000 children, to discipline them.
Similar instances were reported when countries like Egypt, Chile, Ethiopia, and
Romania were surveyed. One of the reports of WHO, mentions the disparity among
the results of the survey when the mode of collection of information was
changed. It was found, for example in the case of Romania, that when parents
were asked about that whether their ward was ever physically abused, the result
was only 0.1%, but when their children were asked the same, the result shot up
to 9.1%. The probable reason can be that children especially the male sections
due to several social stigmas, over time try to keep the occurrence of such
disheartening incidents only to themselves.
Though the current law is not full filing but the Indian society is well aware
of the male sexual harassment as compared to countries like UAE, Qatar,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka where male sexual harassment is an alien’s
concept. However, India lacks the laws, facilities, social rehabilitation as
compared to western countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom,
Germany, Denmark, etc. where laws are gender neutral, govt. is more active.
There is a similar trend of less reporting of such cases across the globe
irrespective of the economic status of the countries, their social fabric,
religion, and color of the skin. The underreporting of these crimes can be
attributed to the masculine load, social strata, and dignity of the victims. The
Indian social fabric, though it knows and talks of male sexual harassment, still
lacks the social acceptance of the victim and to support the victims of such
crimes to lead a normal, dignified life. Nevertheless, the current laws are
inefficient to tackle the problem entirely, but the parliamentary debate of
making laws gender-neutral gives a hope that in the coming near future India
will be having more stringent laws to tackle matters of male sexual harassment.
There are several major areas for action that need to beaddressed by
governments, researchers, health care and social workers, the teaching and legal
professions, nongovernmental organizations and other groups with interest in
preventing child abuse and neglect. These areas include:
1. Better assessment and monitoring: There is a need for better evaluation
and control as the data present is outdated and old. Since 2007, the population
has increased, and India has witnessed several changes both legally and
2. Policy development: Governments should come up with more gender-neutral
policies and assist local agencies in implementing effective protection services
for the male gender as well.
3. Need for more gender neutral laws, with strong misuse clause: Most of
the laws related to abuse or harassment excludes male as the
4. Awareness Campaigns: Awareness Campaigns should be conducted to break
the silence and make both adult and children more aware. There should be
awareness to be more sympathetic and to get rid of social stigmas that keep the
male sector away from expressing their fears.
5. Need for research: There is a need for research in this field such as
better ways of disciplining the kids; means through which males can be more
expressive when it comes to critical issues is required.
6. Distribution of literature in schools and colleges to bring awareness
will also be a welcoming step.
 Right to equality
 The Constitution of India, 1949
 Unnatural offenses
 Indian Penal Code, 1860
 Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty
 Rukmini Shrinivasan. The Hindu
 Child Abuse: INDIA 2007
 Vishakha Guidelines, AIR 1997 SC 3011
 World Health Organization/ Child Maltreatment
 United Arab Emirates