Shifting Perspectives: The Exigency of Gender Neutrality in Indian Rape Laws

Indraneel Chakraborty
School of Law, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES), Dehradun, India.

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

It has been over 160 years since the inception of the Indian Penal Code in the legal substructure of India but astoundingly, a few persistent lacunae still haunt the efficacy of the archaic punitive legislation. Over the past few decades, India has witnessed a sweeping upsurge in demands for amending our longstanding laws and regulations to comply with the present-day perspective of the citizens as well as to cope up with the contemporary needs of the society. Resultantly, the government took due cognizance of the voice of the citizenry and implemented some remarkable changes in our socio-legal administration viz. decriminalization of adultery, validating live-in relationships, recognizing homosexuality, incorporating the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right, and so forth.

However, the canons of ‘Equality’ treasured in the Basic Structure of the Constitution of India are not stringently adhered to if we were to ascertain the pragmatic realities of identifying the concept of ‘Gender Neutrality’ in India’s rape laws, as laid down under sections 375-376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Although the notion of incorporating Gender Neutrality in rape law has been discussed in various suggestive reports and judicial precedents, no significant developments concerning the same have been practically instigated. Identifying the dreadful crime of ‘Rape’ as a gender-neutral crime is of paramount importance since India is devoid of any comprehensive legislation to tackle male on male, female on male, or transgender rapes. This is vital for the nation to truly progress as an established democracy with legal standards of equity, uprightness, and impartiality.

Keywords: Gender-Neutrality, rape, crime, equity, uprightness, impartiality


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