Gender Neutrality of Criminal Law in India-A Myth or Reality with Special Reference to Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019​​

Assistant Professor at Faculty of Law, University of Lucknow, India.

Volume IV, Issue I, 2021

The purpose of criminal law is to protect the society against every crime and to ensure this it prescribes punishment. This protection is available to everyone irrespective of their sex or gender. But the same is not true in case of sexual offences such as rape or outraging the modesty for example. The law relating to sexual offences in India is gender biased in the sense that it proceeds on the presumption that only women can be victim of sexual offences. The legislature, despite many recommendations, has failed to amend the law and thereby acknowledge the sexual victimization of men and transgenders. There are very few incidents when a rape against men/transgender is reported and even if it is brought into light, no appropriate action is taken because of absence of law on the subject. After Nirbhaya case, the Criminal law (amendment) Act, 2013 brought major changes in the rape law but still the relevant definitions were not made gender neutral. Last year in December, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 was passed which contains provision prescribing punishment for rape committed against a transgender. But this Act is heavily criticized and one of the points of criticism is that the quantum of punishment prescribed for rape is very less. Recently, Criminal law (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha with an intention to amend existing rape law and make it gender neutral. In this article, the author has explored the concept of gender neutrality and its relevance in Indian rape law, along with an analysis of Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Keywords: gender neutral, criminal law, transgender, rape, rape of men.