Entering the 21st century we witness more and more rape cases around us. Rape is a heinous crime, yet understudied. When u hear the word ‘RAPE’ what comes to your mind? I am sure it must be a woman as a victim and a man as a perpetrator. But do we make such gender-based assumptions for other crimes as well? We don’t, because a criminal and a victim could be of any gender, age, caste, or religion. Pre-assuming the gender of the victim and the rapist is the conventional way of thinking about this issue. A considerable proportion of rape victims are men, only most of the cases go unreported due to the unwillingness of the victims to file a case. Moreover, Indian law as well does not recognize males as victims of rape. Articles 365 and 366 of the IPC identify only women as victims of rape and not men. It is only article 377 of IPC and the POCSO Act (meant for those below the age of 18) that stand for the males in this case. But unavailability of a specific law poses a big problem in this scenario.


The taboo around this issue creates a general perception that men are not vulnerable. The patriarchal society we live in expects certain masculine characteristics from men which forbids them from being seen as vulnerable or as a victim. Men are expected to stay tough physically and emotionally, venting out emotions or sharing a traumatic experience is the last thing they are allowed to do. The post-assault trauma is equally challenging for both men and women, refusing to acknowledge the pain and victimization of males will only make it tough for them to cope with the situation. The fear of being considered homosexual or unmanly further pushes them to bury the secret of their trauma deep within their hearts. The trauma leaves deep scars on the survivors for life long. Some who fail to bear the pain even end up committing suicide. It is high time we stop having unrealistic expectations from men. We as a society fail here if we are unable to grant equal emotional space to our male counterparts.


Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation, or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.”. Section 376 mentions that the punishment for the same shall not be less than 10 years, but may extend to life imprisonment with a liability of fine as well.

Section 377 says “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

It is quite evident that sections 375 and 376 do not cover cases related to sexual assault on men. They specifically define a woman as a victim and a man as a perpetrator. Section 377 as well merely talks about ‘sodomy’, which too is misused to target homosexual couples rather than being used for the actual victims. All this clearly shows that there has been little done to protect men from sexual assault and rape. There is no separate provision to safeguard men and ensure them justice for assault cases in our constitution.

The POCSO Act, 2012 on the other hand is the only provision that recognizes that males too can be victims of sexual abuse. But sadly its scope is limited only to minors. It is specifically meant for protecting children from any kind of sexual offence.


During wartime multiple unimaginable atrocities are committed, the rape of men being one of them. And perhaps the fact that no one talks about it, it is denied or kept secret by both victim and perpetrator makes it even worse. Men are raped with gruesome brutality not just for sexual pleasure but to get the pleasure of their pain. They are forced to penetrate holes in banana trees that run with acidic sap, to sit with their genitals on fire, to give oral sex to the soldiers, to drag rocks tied to their penis, and whatnot. They are raped multiple times a day for years and are left with horrendous scars. Some people are physically damaged to such an extent that they suffer throughout their life. Despite treatment, some men bleed even while walking, and most of them are not left capable enough to have sexual intercourse. The trauma is nearly irreversible and what adds cherry to the cake is that men are abandoned by their families and friends as soon as they confess their rape and assault.


On the surface, it seems that it is practically impossible for a woman to rape a man. If we have a look at the definition of rape it says,

A man is said to commit “rape” if he–

(a) penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra, or anus of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person; or

(b) inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra, or anus of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person; or

(c) manipulates any part of the body of a woman to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus, or any part of the body of such a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person; or

(d) applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, or urethra of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person, under the specific circumstances mentioned.

Considering the above definition we gather the knowledge that penetration in the mouth or anus by any object by forceful means is considered rape. From this, we can imply that if a woman forcefully penetrates any object into a man’s anus or mouth, logically it should be considered rape (if the laws are made gender-neutral). Besides, forcing a man to have sexual intercourse by coercion also falls under the category of rape. This clearly shows women are as capable as men to commit this inhumane crime. According to statistics in the year 2020, 68.6% of victims reported a female perpetrator. It is high time when we break gender-based stereotypes and assess rape cases in a gender-neutral manner.


The definition of rape has been ever-changing and it is high time we make it gender-neutral. Men are as vulnerable as women, they too need help. A male rape victim is as much of a man as any other man, rape can not rob them of their manliness and this is where the role of society comes up. We as a society need to support the male victims rather than becoming the reason behind their hiding their trauma. To impart justice to them, section 377 is not enough and we need a law specifically addressing the male rape issue. This issue has been unaddressed, and unreported and needs our proper attention. We need to protect men from rapes as much as we need to protect women. In a nutshell, I would say, a slight change in our mentality could be of great help in this issue.

Author(s) Name: Aayushi Baliyan (RMLNLU, Lucknow)

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