PIL challenges existing rape laws as biased; Delhi HC issues notice to central govt

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutionality of Section

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutionality of Section 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code as being biased towards men and not including women under its ambit as the perpetrators was admitted in Delhi High Court which issued notice to the central government.

The petitioner Sanjiv Kumar has challenged the constitutionality of the existing provisions that deal with rape as they recognizes only a man as the perpetrator and the woman as a victim. Kumar has contended that critics have failed to recognize the importance of gender-neutral laws and has urged the bench to think “beyond the male-on-female paradigm.”

“In fact, gender is central to any understanding of how and why sexual violence occurs. What is clear, however, is that while females are the main victims of sexual violence and males the main perpetrators, one still has to consider how sexual assaults beyond the male-on-female paradigm are to be labelled by the criminal law,” reads the petition.

Kumar has also stated that the reason why men do not report instances of rape is the ‘very notion of patriarchy’ and how it prevents them from reporting such sexual abuse. “If a male alleges that female raped him, he is not seen as a ‘Real Man’ because the stereotypical patriarchal assumption of ‘men are superior and stronger to women’ comes into the picture. The same ‘male domination’ and the notion of patriarchy is, in fact, the very reason males do not come out of the closet to report rapes,” says Kumar.

Kumar has also relied on the recent Right to Privacy verdict delivered by a nine-judge bench where the right was declared as a part of the fundamental right under Article 21. The petitioner has stated that consent was of utmost importance in rape cases and how the right to privacy verdict mentions consent “38 times”. “Supreme Court in Right to Privacy ruling has used the word ‘consent’ 38 times.

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