Several weeks ago, I wrote about the Indian government’s reaction to lobbying for changes to their rape statutes. I noted in the piece that women’s groups in India opposed changing the statute from “rape” to “sexual assault” because it included women as potential rapists. Their argument was that rape is an expression of patriarchal power, therein making it impossible for women to rape men, and that men accused of rape would simply accuse the women of rape, both of which are typical feminist arguments against acknowledging male victimization.
It appears the Indian government bowed to the women’s groups demands:
Bowing to pressure from women activists, the government has decided to restore the term rape in criminal law that states only men can be booked for committing the offence against women. It has also decided to lower the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years. These are fresh changes proposed by the Centre in its criminal laws (amendment) bill, which will replace the rape ordinance issued on February 3. […] The [JS Verma] panel — set up to look into rape laws after the December 16 Delhi gang rape — had recommended that the offence be kept gender-specific and the age for consensual sex be retained at 16 years in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In its ordinance, however, the government replaced the term rape with sexual assault, stating that any ‘person’ can commit the offence.
A senior government official explained that a section of the current law dealing with “unnatural sex and related activity” (Section 377) already addresses sexual violence committed by women. However, the law is very specific: Continue reading