“Male Rape”- An Important Issue

“Rape”, a word which is most commonly used not only in India but even in different parts of the world, a word which gives you a deep terrorizing effect, a word which is based on an assumption that it is something that only a man can do to a woman. But this word is not only restricted to a rape done to a ‘female’ but also includes rape done to a ‘male’.

Male rape is when a male has unwanted sex with a male or female.[1] A male becomes a victim of sexual assault when he is forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity.[2]

Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, US points out that 71% of male victims were first raped before their 18th birthday; 16.6% were 18-24 years old, and 12.3% were 25 or older. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male.

In looking at child sexual abuse specifically, the Indian government did find in 2007 that, of surveyed children who reported experiencing severe sexual abuse, including rape or sodomy, 57.3% were boys and 42.7% were girls. More recently, the Delhi- based Centre for Civil Society found that approximately 18% of Indian adult men surveyed reported being coerced or forced to have sex. Of those, 16% claimed a female perpetrator and 2% claimed a male perpetrator.

There had been a lot of instances of male rape in India but such crime has not been reported because most of them suffer in silence. In a capital city of Kerala, a sixteen year old boy was raped by a forty- five year old man. In another incident of the year 2013 which took place in Ghaziabad, a male student of Delhi University was raped by the goons of his girlfriend’s father. One of the shocking and heartbreaking incidents of male rape is where a male was raped by his uncle for years as a child and how he overcame the fear and gathered courage to say no to his uncle.[3]

In the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) measured a category of sexual violence called “being made to penetrate” which captures instances where victims who were forced to penetrate someone, either by physical force or coercion, or when the victim was intoxicated or otherwise unable to consent. The CDC found that 1.267 million men reported being “made to penetrate” another person in the preceding 12 months, similar to the 1.270 million women who reported being raped in the same time period.

Types of Male Rape

  • Male- on- Male rape: This type of rape has been documented as a weapon of terror during the war times. The victorious soldiers were given a right to rape the defeated enemy. In the case of Syrian Civil War, the male detainees experienced sexual abuse such as to sit on a broken glass bottle, or being forced to see the rape of other detainee by the officials.
  • Female- on- male rape: It is a sexual abuse by a female to the male victim. Man feels shame in reporting this type of abuse as it is always the female who is given support. The stereotype society does not believe them because of the myth that a female can’t rape a male. An instance is where a male is forced to have sex with the female boss in order to secure his job.

Myths regarding Male Rape

  • How can a male be raped? In a stereotype society it is often believed that man is strong and is able to protect himself while a woman is weak and fragile. In such a society even if male cries, it is considered as unmanly. Hence a man cannot be the victim of rape.
  • It is often believed that man always wants sex. A common societal belief is that a male must be aroused if he gets an erection or has an orgasm, and so that means they are enjoying and willing any sexual activity. But this is not the case. Roy J. Levin, and Winy Van Berlo wrote in an article that slight genital stimulation or stress can create erections “even though no specific sexual stimulation is present”.[4] An erection does not mean that man consent to sex.
  • Another myth is that males are less traumatized by the abuse experience than the females are; this is based on the belief that males are less negatively affected. Because of the stereotypical views of the society, man feels shame and remains silent. And silent suffering further leads to increase in their trauma.
  • Male victims are lucky. As there had been a lot of cases reported of female rape, society started believing that man enjoys sex and hence they rape. Because of this reason whenever any male is being raped it is believed that sexual violence is something the male wants when the perpetrator is a female.

Effects on the victim of male rape

It has been noted that 45% of male survivors who accessed hospital sexual assault centre had some type of physical injury (25% soft tissue injury, 20% lacerations).[5] The data from hospital emergency rooms shows that male rape victims are more often to have non-genital injuries than females save that they are more likely to be neglected medical attention if the injuries are not significant. It is reported by Hodge and Canter (1998) that the homosexual male victims are more likely to sustain serious injuries than heterosexual male victims.

Male victims find it difficult to report sexual abuse against them. They remain silent because of various myths of the stereotype society. They suffer from metal health problems including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression; alcoholism and drug abuse; suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts; problems in intimate relationships; and underachievement at school and at work. Healing after the rape does not help the male victim as they do not speak about the incident. Male victim thinks that people will question his masculinity or they will think him as gay.

Legal Framework

There is no legal framework to help male rape survivors. Our constitution guarantees equality of law for both men and women. But such equality is lacking in our Indian Penal Code which does not talk about male rape. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code does not include male as a rape victim. A male victim can find justice under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code but this section talks about ‘Sodomy’ which is not considered as actual rape. Importantly, there is no distinction between consensual and non-consensual sexual acts between two male adults. If a female is the perpetrator, there is no mechanism for finding justice.

 Conclusion

Male rape is an important issue. Awareness must be provided to the people across the country so that the male victim will not suffer in silence. An education programme should be initiated in schools to educate young children about the same. It is to be understood that it is not always the women who is a victim of the rape but men are also sometimes the victim of rape. It is that they remain silent because of the patriarchal and stereotype society and because of this they suffer from mental trauma and depression. Victims of male rape should be allowed to share their experiences without being judged or ridiculed. There is a need for legal reforms regarding the male rape. The benefits which are availed by a female of rape victim under various laws should also be given to the victim of male rape. Hence society needs to change their mindset that “a male can get raped”.


References:

[1] As defined by Urban Dictionary

[2] As defined by Center Against Sexual Assault

[3] A blog by Humans of Bombay

[4] Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine

[5] A study by Stermac and colleagues(2004)

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