Sexual Assault and its forms have been recognized by almost all societies. It is not a crime against women but the entire society. There are certain Rape laws made for each country as per their mandates. In India, rape laws started with the Act namely the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 which was passed to provide a general code in India, extending to the whole of India.
There have been subsequent amendments to the Act but the main focus revolved around assault against women.
Definition of Rape as per IPC:
Rape is defined under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code as –
“Sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.”
Certain circumstances that need to be followed to be called a RAPE:
- It should be against her Will.
- It should be against her Consent.
- With her consent, obtained in fear of death.
- With her consent, obtained by using undue influence or making her falsely believe in something.
- With her consent, in the context of unsoundness of mind or under heavy intoxication when the woman is unable to understand the nature of the act.
- If she is under 18 years of age.
- When she is unable to reveal or show consent.
A few Exceptions include:
- A medical process does not come under Rape.
- Marital Rape i.e., a husband raping a wife if the wife is below 15 years of age.
Punishment for Rape:
Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code provides for the punishment of rape.
- Section 376 (1) states that – if anyone commits rape – then he shall be imprisoned for not less than seven years but can be extended up to the lifetime of the accused, or imprisoned for ten years and shall be liable to a fine; unless the woman is his wife or under 12 years of age.
- Section 376 (2) states that – if a police officer commits rape within his limits or a public servant taking advantage of his position etc – he shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than ten years, extendable to life imprisonment, and also liable for fine.
- Section 376A states that – if someone commits an offense under subsection (1) and (2) of Section 376, which causes the death of the woman or leaves her in a persistent vegetative state – he shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of not less than 20 years extendable to life imprisonment.
- Section 376B states that – whoever has sexual intercourse with his wife, who is living separately, under a decree of separation without her consent – he shall be punished with a term not less than 2 years which may extend up to 7 years, and also be liable to fine.
- There are certain cases like the Nirbhaya Rape Case where murder is committed after the rape and the act is so gruesome and cruel that it comes under the ‘rarest of rare’ cases, a death sentence is given.
Case Laws regarding Rape:
- Mukesh & Anr. V State for NCT of Delhi & Ors –
Famously known as The Nirbhaya case. Here, a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and brutally murdered. The judgement by the Supreme Court was that it awarded the death penalty to the 4 people among the 6 culprits. One was a juvenile who was sent to Juvenile Justice Board and the other committed suicide before the judgement.
- Harpal Singh & Others v. State of Himachal Pradesh:
In this case, the girl was a minor of 16 years of age. She was sent o her ailing aunt and while returning, some boys took her to a room and committed sexual intercourse with her against her will. The judgement read that there was enough evidence that she was a minor and as such her consent was no consent at all. The accused were liable under Section 376 of the IPC.
The legislature has to make any and every amendment if the rape laws are to be any deterrence. Severe and appropriate punishment should be inflicted on the offenders in a time-bound manner as delay in the procedure will tamper with justice.
The reason is that women are not well aware of their rights and also those who are victims hesitate to come forward and report such incidents. Women, girls, everyone must have the privilege to be educated enough to understand the right and the wrong and differentiate between a good touch and a bad touch.