• AM Plus Issue 5

Breaking the silence over male rape

Srishti Chhaya 26th September 2020

Male rape has been an issue that has been ignored for many years now. Discussions started to stir up again when the 28-year-old British Boxer, Callum Hancock, as reported by BBC, recently opened up about being sexually abused by a bully when he was young. As told by Hancock, the incident happened in the backyard of his house when he was ten years old, and the trauma of the incident has still not left his side. While growing up, he often wondered if he had dreamt about that horrific experience or just misunderstood the situation.

Boxer Callum Hancock had recently voiced his experience of being sexually abused at the age of 10 (Source: itv.com)

Many cases of rape go un-noticed because of the social stigma attached to it. Women rape survivors find it difficult to voice and report their experiences, but the percentage is even higher in males. In a survey conducted by the National Crime Victimization, 38 per cent of rape victims were men. The percentage of female perpetrators of sexual abuse reported was 68.6 per cent while non-consensual sex experienced by men in their lifetime was 79.2 per cent.

These voices get suppressed until a high-profile case surfaces such as that of the Indonesian student, Reynhard Sinaga who was recently captured and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United Kingdom for 159 sexual offences against 48 men and 70 unidentified survivors. After Sinaga was caught, the percentage of voices of male rape survivors jumped rapidly. One such voice was of a 93-year-old man, who reported being abused at the age of six.

As mentioned in a report by The Guardian, the FBI’s definition of rape was the use of sexual force against a female, forcibly, or without her will. But this definition was changed to “forced penetration” with no mention of gender. On the other hand, Indian law doesn’t even recognise male rape.

According to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, rape can be done only on a woman by a man. The IPC does not even consider that a man can be raped, let alone that a female can be a perpetrator. The data by the Indian Government revealed that 50 per cent of child sexual abuse victims are boys. For adult males, one out of every five men is raped once in their lifetime. According to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill of 2018, the minimum punishment for rape of women is 10 years (increased from 7 years), and for the rape of girls below the age of 16 is 20 years (increased from 10 years) is extendable to life imprisonment and death penalty for rape of girls below the age of 12. But no such mention is made for males.

One such story coming from India, through Go News India, is that of Rohit, a rape survivor who was raped in the cabin of his hostel rector in class 8. Before he was raped, the hostel rector would seldom spank Rohit during breaks. When he complained to the Principal of the School, he was slapped and suspended for a week. For twelve years, Rohit believed that somehow it was his fault until he gathered the courage to voice his experience.

Embarrassment and discomfort are the primary reasons why a person of any gender finds it difficult to report rape or sexual abuse. The sexist, stereotypical, and outdated mindset of the society that a man cannot be forced upon or made to have sex against their will has suppressed the voices of many such victims.

(Sources: The Asean Post, Balkan Insight, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Go News India) Edited by Satvik Pandey

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